Too often, the real needs of our military have been used to carry more wasteful or unnecessary spending for other programs. Once again, this appears to be the case in the House.
Right now, our troops need supplemental funding to continue their work in Afghanistan and Iraq for the rest of the fiscal year. Secretary Gates said this week that funding for the Navy and Marine Corps will begin to run out in July, and by early to mid-August, the military may not be able to pay members of the active-duty military.
This situation is serious and dealing with it should be straightforward. Yet, instead of bringing a clear-cut supplemental spending bill to the floor, Speaker Pelosi and the majority in the House want to piggyback on that bill funding for all sorts of things, including more stimulus spending and billions more in bailouts for the states.
Republicans are concerned and are calling for a clean war funding measure to be debated without further delay. Yesterday, the top Republicans on the House Armed Services, Appropriations, and Education and Labor committees urged President Obama and Speaker Pelosi to publicly reject efforts to stall a vote on troop funding. As a senior Member of the Armed Services Committee, I shared my thoughts in a video posting at America Speaking Out and urge Americans all across the country to do the same.
We are faced with a serious situation in Afghanistan which requires our best efforts and our concentrated focus. The men and women in our armed services should be the first and foremost priority of this spending bill. Instead, wasteful Washington spending is being strapped on the backs of our troops. We should not do it. Our troops and our nation expect better of us.
And it is not the first time the current Democratic leadership in the House has tacked unrelated and unpopular measures on a must-pass defense bill. At the end of last year, they attached a controversial “hate crimes” provision on the Defense Authorization Bill. However one feels about hate crimes, it is wrong to force a domestic political issue into a national security bill. And I worry that doing it makes it less likely than ever that national security will stay above domestic politics.
I believe that national security is the first job of the federal government and that our military men and women in the field deserve our full, unconditional support. That’s why Congress should pass a clean funding bill without gimmicks and without a lot of extra spending, and we should do so as soon as possible.
What do you think? House Republicans want to hear from you. Go to www.AmericaSpeakingOut.com and share your thoughts and ideas with us.
Congressman Thornberry represents Texas' 3rd congressional district and serves on the House Committee on Armed Services.