Underfunded, Unready’: John McCain Wants $17 Billion More for US Defense
May 25, 2016
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain is expected to ask for an additional $17 billion in defense funding, via an amendment to the $602 billion 2017 National Defense Authorization Act that arrives on the Senate floor this week.
Democratic members of the Senate have demanded that each dollar spent on defense be matched in domestic spending, which may make the Republican’s amendment much more difficult to pass.
“I don’t know whether or not this amendment will succeed, but the Senate must have this debate and senators must choose a side,” McCain said at an event at the Brookings’ Center.
In a six-page letter to the Senate by McCain on May 20, he requested additional funding for the Afghan Security Forces Fund, increased spending to fight Daesh and the Taliban, as well as money for Ukraine, in addition to what is already being spent on new fighter jets and ship building.
McCain also called for a freeze on the drawdown of the Army and Marines.
“By the end of the next fiscal year, the Army will be cut down to 450,000 Active-Duty personnel soldiers, down from a wartime peak of 570,000. This budget-driven reduction was made before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the rise of ISIL,” he states in the letter, reiterating ungrounded accusations US Republicans often use to justify more military expenditures. “Given the current threats facing the Army and the demands they impose upon our soldiers, the Senate should stop the planned reduction of 15,000 Active-Duty soldiers and 10,000 reserve component soldiers in fiscal year 2017.”
He argued that the military is being left “underfunded, undersized, and unready to meet current and future threats.”
“My instinct that Sen. McCain’s amendment would just be about increasing defense spending in the NDAA, and that kind of dollar-for-dollar increase on other issues wouldn’t be germane there, so you have a vote for the first time, in recent memory at least, on whether we should increase defense spending or not, without the ancillary issues,” Justin Johnson, a senior defense policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, told Defense News.
The White House issued a statement saying it will veto any legislation that includes these changes.