Mar 20 2015

Graham-Ayotte Amendment to Increase Defense Spending Passes Senate Budget Committee

Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire) today introduced and passed an amendment that would increase spending on defense. The vote in the Senate Budget Committee was 12-10.

The Graham-Ayotte amendment increases spending in the Overseas Contingency Operations Account by $38 billion, up to $96 billion, from the original allocation of $58 billion. In addition to financing American military operations in places like Afghanistan and against ISIL, this increased funding will be used to restore military readiness and advance important modernization programs-allowing the United States military to retain its military superiority and protect our national security.

"I have long believed that the first obligation of the federal government is the defense of our nation," said Graham, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. "In 2011, when Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the blind across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, ISIL did not exist as a major threat. The increase in funding, which now means the Senate GOP budget spends more on defense than President Obama's, will allow our military to be more prepared to deal with the growing threats to our homeland. I'm pleased to say we were able to accomplish this goal without raising taxes. There are more terrorist organizations with more capabilities, with more arms, with more recruits, with more safe havens to attack the United States than any time before 9/11. I believe the passage of this amendment will be welcome news to those charged with defending our nation."

"The Director of National Intelligence recently said that in his 50-year plus career in the intelligence community, he couldn't think of a time ‘more beset by challenges and crises around the world' than today," said Ayotte, a member of the Senate Budget Committee and chair of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support. "American troops are deployed overseas in Afghanistan and combating the threat we face from ISIS and other terrorist groups, and we have a responsibility to provide them with the very best training and equipment available. At a time when the threats to our nation are growing, this amendment provides necessary funding to protect our servicemen and women and keep our country safe."

"I am pleased by the passage of the amendment to increase funding for national defense, which every uniformed military leader has testified is absolutely essential to protecting America's national security," said U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). "I refuse to ask the brave young Americans in our military to defend this nation with insufficient resources that would place their lives in unnecessary danger. Using OCO to prevent this scenario is not my preference, but it is infinitely better than the current defense spending caps, and it could help to avert a looming disaster for our military. Beyond this year's budget resolution, it will remain my highest priority as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to achieve a long-term, bipartisan solution that responsibly funds defense once and for all. Meeting our constitutional duty to provide for our nation's defense requires no less."

Finally, the senators noted the passage of the amendment today was a step in the right direction but does not fully fix the problem. The House of Representatives and Senate have additional work to do in the coming months when it comes to replacing the Budget Control Act's budget limits and replenishing defense funding.