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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today regarding the Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Budget:
“This budget is a missed opportunity for our nation’s security and soldiers. President Bush has repeatedly ignored the need to provide relief to our overstretched troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and his Fiscal Year 2006 Defense Budget is no exception.
“Although the 2006 budget provides a much needed $19.3 billion increase in funding for the Department of Defense over 2005, it is $4.5 billion below what the Pentagon projected last year it would need. It also does not increase the end-strength of the Army and Marine Corps or increase the death gratuity for service members’ families.
“In addition, despite the Administration’s widely reported failure to provide adequate protection for our troops, the President chose not to substantially increase funding for armor and protection against improvised explosive devices. Finally, the Pentagon warned in a December memo of $30 billion in cuts over the next six years that could jeopardize our ability to develop and procure the weapons our troops need to wage the war on terrorism.
“America’s defense spending must meet today’s needs, but also have an eye to the future. In the years ahead, the war on terrorism will undoubtedly involve more ‘nation building’ and soldier-intensive operations like we have undertaken in Iraq and Afghanistan. These types of engagement demand well-trained troops, not just advanced technology. Failure to adequately protect and reward our troops undermines our ability to address these new security challenges in the 21st century.
“Democrats will fight to ensure that the 2006 Budget will help us win the war on terrorism, protect our troops, and keep our citizens safe.”