Feb 25 2014

Statement by Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain on Obama Administration Defense Budget Proposal

Washington -- U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the Obama Administration's defense budget proposal outlined yesterday by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:

"The proposed defense cuts outlined by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel yesterday will weaken our nation's security while the threats we face around the world are becoming more dangerous and complex. Now is not the time to embrace a defense posture reminiscent of the years prior to World War II, which left us unprepared to face gathering global threats.

"As Director of National Intelligence James Clapper grimly described recently, ‘[L]ooking back over my more than half a century in intelligence, I have not experienced a time when we have been beset by more crises and threats around the globe.' With governments weakened by political instability and al-Qaeda- affiliated groups empowered from Mali and Nigeria to the Horn of Africa and South Asia, it is true that the world is more dangerous than at any time in recent history. And, as top Administration officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson recently observed, threats in some of these areas put our allies at risk and increasingly even the U.S. homeland. At the center of this growing threat is the conflict in Syria, which is destabilizing the Middle East and increasingly poses a direct threat to the West.

"In the heart of Iraq, the black flags of al Qaeda flew just last month over the city of Fallujah. Just this week, Taliban fighters overran an Afghan Army base in eastern Afghanistan. The turmoil in Ukraine and Russia's continued bullying of its neighbors have reignited dormant animosities in Eastern Europe. U.S. and international efforts have failed to meaningfully check Iran's nuclear ambitions. China continues its provocative behavior towards its American-allied neighbors, raising tensions across East Asia. Even in our own hemisphere, security challenges including instability in Venezuela and transnational drug cartels threaten U.S. interests.

"So how does the President respond to these threats? By requesting cuts that would dramatically reduce the size of the Army to pre-World War II levels; eliminate whole fleets of proven aircraft without reliable alternatives; cause more than a dozen major warships to be removed from operational service; all while seeking reductions in military compensation and benefits. We look forward to the Armed Services Committee's reviewing these items thoroughly throughout the rest of the year.

"Remarkably, we are also learning that the budget request, to be released next week, cuts the Department of Defense while including billions of dollars in new spending for scores of duplicative and wasteful domestic government programs.

"We are deeply concerned that the policy of austerity will be limited to our national security at a time when what we need most is a Commander-in-Chief willing to lead in a dangerous world and a strong military posture that supports our interests and our allies. If Congress allows the President to continue cutting the defense budget at the pace and depth he proposes, we will have provided neither."