Abraham statement on bipartisan budget compromise
WASHINGTON - Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, issued the following statement in regards to his vote in support of the bipartisan budget agreement.
The budget agreement provides for increased funding for the military to help it rebuild after years of neglect and negative consequences as the result of budget caps (details below). The budget agreement provides for $700 billion for FY18 and $716 billion for FY19 in total defense spending.
Dr. Abraham is a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and the only member of the Louisiana delegation who serves on a committee directly overseeing the military.
"The federal government’s greatest responsibility is to provide for the defense of this nation, but years of budget caps have depleted our military and stretched them too thin. Our military position around the world is diminishing as a direct result of Congress using our troops as pawns in political games. I voted for the bipartisan budget compromise because it begins the process of rebuilding our military by investing in desperately needed repairs, new equipment, and more training and recruitment of troops.
"Military investments will have direct impacts on Louisiana’s military bases in Barksdale and Fort Polk, which play critical roles in our national security strategy. The budget agreement also provides funding for our veterans, the Corps’ flood mitigation efforts and disaster victims, including provisions that will benefit Louisiana.
"I understand and share the concerns about the debt. I would have written the bill differently, but our military needed long-term funding. Debt has consequences, but so does failing to provide our troops with the resources they need to defend us from our enemies while we sleep safely in our beds at night. I could never ask our men and women in uniform to fight for me knowing that I had voted against them," Dr. Abraham said.
HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry added, "Ralph Abraham is a staunch supporter of our men and women in uniform. That’s clear from the passion he brings to our work together on the Armed Services Committee. We understand that this budget deal isn’t perfect, but it is necessary to provide the long-term funding our military needs to plan, rebuild and respond to threats to our national security."
The budget begins to address these military readiness problems:
- The size of the Army has been reduced by half over the last eight years, resulting in 120,000 fewer soldiers and only five of 58 brigade combat teams listed as "ready to fight tonight." The budget addresses those deficiencies by directing nearly $22 billion toward new equipment, equipment upgrades and repairs, recruitment, and training.
- The Air Force is the smallest its ever been and suffers from a shortage of 2,000 pilots. Half of the Navy's aircraft cannot fly due to maintenance issues. 80 percent of Marine Corps aviation unites lack minimum number of ready basic aircraft. The budget directs $46.4 billion toward repairs and upgrades to aircraft, replacing old and broken aircraft, and training for more airmen and mechanics.
- Sailors work 100-plus hours per week and struggle to balance training requirements and current operations. This contributed to two deadly ship crashes last summer that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors. The budget directs $40.9 billion toward repairing ships, adding new ships, and recruitment and training of sailors.
The budget includes wins for disaster relief and flood mitigation:
- Waives the duplication of benefits rule for Louisiana flood victims.
- Provides $23.5 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
- Directs $17.2 billion for Corps construction, operation and maintenance, and Mississippi River funds that provide flood mitigation measures.
- Provides $600 million for Economic Development Assistance funds for flood mitigation, disaster relief and infrastructure for 2017 federal disaster areas.