Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Liz Cheney gave a speech on the House floor Wednesday about the importance of passing the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act to support our men and women in uniform.
“I rise today in strong support of this rule and the bipartisan work of the House Armed Services Committee that’s gone into crafting the underlying bill. This year’s NDAA authorizes programs that are absolutely crucial, Mr. Speaker, to the defense of the Nation. The bill authorizes funding at levels that will begin to restore our readiness, replace aging equipment and weapons and develop the next generation of military technology. Mr. Speaker, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would clearly like to divert attention from these issues. They’d like to try to discuss everything under the sun, it seems, except funding for our men and women in uniform who are on the front lines defending the freedom that allows us to have the debate we’re having today in this very chamber. The bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is without the funding authorized in this bill, our adversaries will continue to close capability gaps and further erode our military superiority. Mr. Speaker, while passage of this rule and the underlying NDAA are vital, our work will not be done. We must appropriate the funds authorized here and we must finally, Mr. Speaker, repeal the Budget Control Act. For the last decade, this body has routinely forced the Department of Defense to operate under continuing resolutions. In plain English, this means we’re asking our men and women in uniform to stay in their posts a put their lives on the line to defend all of us while at the same time depriving them of the resources they need to do that job. The situation, Mr. Speaker, was exacerbated in 2011 with the arbitrary budget caps and sequestration of the Budget Control Act. This has devastated military readiness and enabled our adversaries to make significant gains that threaten our security and our military superiority. In testimony earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Mattis described the severity of the situation and congressional responsibility for the situation this way. He said, quote, ‘As hard as the last 16 years of war have been, no enemy in the field has done as much to harm the readiness of the U.S. Military than the combined impact of the budget control act’s defense spending caps worsened by operating for 10 of the last 11 years under continuing resolutions of varied and unpredictable duration.’ In a world in which we face the most complex and severe threat environment we faced since the end of world war II, the situation is simply shameful. The men and women who put their lives on the line for all of us are sick and tired, as my colleagues said — that’s absolutely true — but they’re sick and tired of being held hostage to a range of Democratic pet programs and politics that are often played by those on the other side of the aisle in this chamber. Year after year, Mr. Speaker, we have completed our work in this body on the defense appropriations bill and we have done it on time. Unfortunately, the same is not true of our colleagues in the Senate. Rules over in the Senate have allowed Democrats in that body to hold critical funding for our military hostage, in an effort to advance unrelated issues. Mr. Speaker, I know my colleagues on the other side of the aisle join me in the belief that no member of our military, no mother or father or wife or husband or child of any service member should have to continue to pay the price for the dysfunction of the united states Congress’ budget process. I fully expect that this house will complete our work once again, Mr. Speaker, to fund our military in a timely manner this year. I call on my colleagues, the Democrats in this body and in the Senate, to join us in fulfilling our most important Constitutional obligation. We must avoid another continuing resolution for the defense department and we must pass the funding authorized under this bill required to provide for the common defense. The first step in that overall process is the work we are doing here this week. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption of this rule so we can complete our work on the underlying bill. I urge passage of the NDAA, and I urge my colleagues to join us in putting the resources in place our troops need to stop holding our troops hostage and to work with us to break the cycle of continuing resolutions that have only served to undermine military readiness.”