Hoyer, Leading Defense Democrats Decry Republican Cuts to National Defense

For Immediate Release:

October 26, 2005

Contact:Stacey Farnen Bernards
(202) 225 - 3130

 

Republicans Propose Irresponsible, Ineffective Across-the-Board Cut to
All National Security Programs in Face of Record GOP Deficits

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) and leading House Democrats on national defense issues released the following statements today decrying Republicans’ proposed 2% across-the-board cut to all national security programs.  Republicans have proposed these cuts as an irresponsible and ineffective way to address the record deficits their policies have created.   

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD)
“Democrats believe that we can be fiscally responsible without undermining our nation’s national security.  The Republicans’ irresponsible budget policies have created record deficits.  And, now to deflect attention from their rank mismanagement, they propose a blind across-the-board cut to every national security, homeland security, intelligence and veterans program.  This is a poor way of addressing deficits at any time, but it is made worse by the fact that Republicans propose these cuts at a time of war and while they pursue $106 billion in additional tax cuts for the wealthy that will only add tens of billions of dollars more to the deficit. 

“Let’s be clear: The Republican Party’s top priority is to provide additional tax cuts to the most fortunate people in this country at a time of record deficits, even if it means skimping on national defense and homeland security.  This irresponsible proposal makes clear that Republicans are incapable of effectively managing our nation’s finances and setting the right priorities for our country.”

House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS)
“The Republican budget proposal is bad for the government, bad for the country, and bad for the average citizen. As our nation struggles to rebuild the Gulf Coast, the Administration is proposing to cut critical domestic programs necessary to make America whole again.  At a time when terrorists could strike us here at home at any time, the Majority is proposing cuts that will make us less secure.  We all deserve better.

“A number of critical Department of Homeland Security programs are currently underfunded. These include terrorism grants to states and localities and Federal Emergency Management Agency programs to help states and localities improve their risk management capabilities before disasters occur. Now, we are hearing that the Department and every other agency may be expected to take a 2% across-the-board cut in funding as part of the proposed budget reconciliation. 

“Even if the Department is directly spared from a 2% cut, I count over 20 biopreparedness, agroterrorism and first responder programs in the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Transportation, and Agriculture that are on the chopping block.  These programs are important tools in the war on terror.

“Rather than cutting security budgets, this Administration should focus on weeding out the mismanagement and fraud that is spread throughout our federal agencies and their contracting practices.  As we are seeing with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, no one is in charge of making sure that multi-million dollar companies are not recklessly spending taxpayer dollars.  The federal government has been and is complacent in overpaying for services offered by select companies, while small and local businesses suffer.  

“I join my Democratic colleagues in saying ‘enough is enough.’  We must guard against the arbitrary cuts that the Republicans have in mind that will leave our nation insecure.”

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), Budget Committee Member and Ranking Member, Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.

"Cutting $600 million from veterans’ health care when local VA hospitals are already forced to use equipment funds to keep the lights on, is completely unacceptable.  I realize it is expensive to pay for veterans’ healthcare during a time of war, but it is morally wrong not to do so."

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA), Co-Chair, Democratic National Security Study Group

“We must pursue a comprehensive solution to our fiscal problems by enacting pay-as-you-go rules, suspending tax cuts for wealthy families, cutting spending, and establishing an emergency rainy day fund.  With American troops in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and with our country coping with the rebuilding of the gulf coast, all of us must sacrifice for our troops and for our neighbors.  A 2% across the board Defense Department cut could affect critical programs like efforts to provide all troops and vehicles in Iraq with the appropriate level of armor.  Recent press reports reveal that the Pentagon is still struggling to complete this overdue effort. 

“A reduction of defense spending in a time of war is the wrong message to send to our military and their families.  If the Republican leadership was serious about fiscal responsibility they would roll-back tax cuts for the wealthiest families, crack down on wasteful and fraudulent spending, and enact paygo rules so we don’t make the problem worse.”

(In September, Hoyer led a group of top Democrats on national security issues in releasing the national security document, “Ensuring America’s Strength and Security: A Democratic National Security Strategy for the 21st Century.”  That document is available at www.democraticwhip.gov.)

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