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By Deb Fischer
U.S. Senator 

Putting American Security First

 

As we mark one month since Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, keeping America safe is our priority.

In just one month, Putin has displaced millions of Ukrainians from their homes, killed thousands of innocent people, including at least 120 children, and made troubling statements about Russia’s nuclear weapons.

During this moment of uncertainty, President Biden recently submitted his annual budget request to Congress. Unfortunately, he has proposed shortchanging our men and women in uniform for the second year in a row.

The good news is that this is only the first step in a budgeting process that typically takes months. And the president’s budget is nothing more than a suggestion to Congress for how to allocate taxpayer dollars. The Constitution gives Congress the final say on government funding.

In his last budget request, the first of his presidency, President Biden proposed a level of defense spending that would not have kept pace with inflation. In this year’s request, he has proposed yet another defense budget that does not match the highest inflation rate we have seen in 40 years.

As Russia continues its war in Ukraine and China rapidly grows its own military, the need for a more robust U.S. defense budget is clear.

After President Biden suggested underfunding our military last year, Republicans and Democrats in Congress worked together through the National Defense Authorization Act to authorize nearly $30 billion more for national security than the president requested. As we move forward from this year’s request, he must remember that overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate support a strong, modern, and capable American military.

To encourage President Biden to prioritize the men and women of our armed forces, I recently joined 40 of my Republican colleagues in the House and Senate in sending him a letter.

Our letter asked the president to include a five-percent increase to defense spending above inflation in his budget request – which he ultimately failed to do. As the letter makes clear, “This is a crucial period for our national security. If we do not make the investments our military needs today, we will not be able to defend our nation or our allies in the future.”

Admiral Charles Richard, who oversees America’s nuclear weapons as the commander of STRATCOM, recently made a similar point during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He testified that because our nuclear forces are aging, STRATCOM is trying to deter nuclear war with bombers “built in the ‘60s, [with] part of our nuclear command and control that predates the internet, and [with] a nuclear weapons complex that dates back to the Manhattan era.”

This is why it is so important to invest in our military. When we do not, there are real consequences, and our adversaries only become more dangerous.

Given the threats we face, we need to make tough decisions to fund American national security. I look forward to making sure Congress does that in our final budget later this year.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process.

 

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