WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) and Democratic leaders on defense and security issues, including Armed Services Ranking Democrat Ike Skelton (MO), House Budget Committee Ranking Democrat John Spratt (SC), Homeland Security Committee Ranking Democrat Jim Turner (TX), and Rep. Ben Chandler (KY) this morning praised the House Democratic Budget alternative. The Democratic Budget alternative matches the House Republican budget on defense and provides more funding for homeland security than the Republican budget. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“Yesterday, the Majority Leader, Tom Delay, said the Republican budget ‘first and foremost’ increases funding for our national security and homeland security agencies. But let’s look at the facts. First, our nation is at war – the war on terrorism. And it’s a war that our nation and our allies must and will win.
“Democrats are absolutely, positively, 100 percent committed to doing everything possible to defeat this modern day scourge. That is why the Democratic budget alternative matches the President’s budget on defense spending. And we believe the decisive factor in this fight is our men and women in uniform.
“That is why Democrats offered an amendment last week in the budget committee to add $2.5 billion to support our men and women in uniform and their families by, among other things, increasing pay for senior enlisted personnel and increasing imminent danger pay. But Republicans rejected it by a vote of 17 to 23.
“But it’s when we hone in on the Republicans’ budget on homeland security that we really see that their rhetoric fails to match the reality. The priority of the Republican budget can be summed up in two words. No, not homeland security. But tax cuts.
“Their budget would cut homeland security funding by $857 million below the President’s request for 2005 to 2009. Our budget, in contrast, would add back the Republicans’ cuts and provide $5 billion more than the President’s budget over the next five years for homeland security.
“Democrats fought last week in committee to strengthen homeland security by adding $1.6 billion in funding for first responders, port security, aviation security and other areas. But Republicans voted our amendment down.
“The American people need to know: their security – not tax cuts for the highest income taxpayers – is our top priority. Our budget reflects that commitment. And we intend to fight for it today.”