Congress spent Tuesday working on a budget deal to avoid another government shutdown, and one adult on Capitol Hill was Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who ripped America’s representatives for failing to provide reliable funding for the military.
Mr. Mattis testified at the House Armed Services Committee about the 2018 defense strategy, among other topics, but noted with some acidity: “Congress mandated, rightfully mandated, this National Defense Strategy—the first one in a decade—and then shut down the government the day of its release.” Without “sustained, predictable appropriations, my presence here today wastes your time,” he added.
Mr. Mattis said that stumbling into another year-long continuing resolution would mean: not recruiting 15,000 Army soldiers and 4,000 Air Force airmen to fill shortfalls;
grounding aircraft thanks to a lack of maintenance and spare parts; and worse. “Let me be clear,” he said, “as hard as the last 16 years ofwar have been on our military, no enemy in the field has done as much to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act’s defense spending caps, worsened by operating for 10 of the last 11 years under continuing resolutions of varied and unpredictable duration.”
All of this should rattle Members obsessing over funding for this or that domestic account as a precondition for a deal that gives the military stable funding. Credit to Mr. Mattis for exposing this pathetic budget exercise, which has withheld resources from servicemembers who have signed “a blank check payable to the American people with their lives.”