U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor today in honor of Military Appreciation Month.
Mr. President, first of all, let me associate my remarks with the Senator from Iowa. It is so important to all of us particularly those of us who have had the occasion to serve, to really pay attention to what’s going on. This is the Military Appreciation Month, and it’s very significant what’s going on. Every month should be Military Appreciation Month.
As Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and as a veteran, it is my great honor and responsibility to support our warfighters during and after their service. Whenever they were needed, they were there. So we’ve got to do a better job in supporting them.
We went through eight years of not adequately supporting the military, and it’s something many of them are suffering from now.
Now, next week, as it was pointed out, we’re going to do the defense authorization bill. You know, it’s not very often you can stand here and say, “we’re going to introduce a bill, and we know it’s going to pass.” And the reason we know it’s going to pass is because it’s passed for the last 58 years. So this one’s going to pass.
I can remember a few years that we actually had to go into September to get the defense authorization bill actually passed. Now, in the event that it got to the end of December, which the same thing would be true this coming year, then we would have hazard pay that wouldn’t be paid, we would have flight pay that wouldn’t be paid, there would not be adequate funding to take care of anything. So we can’t let that happen—we’re not going to let that happen.
I’m a little confused now because a month from today, we’ll mark the bill up in the United States Senate, but the House isn’t going to do it until the middle of June. And then I also heard they may over in the House actually do the appropriations bill first. Well, if you do the appropriations bill before you do the bill we’ll be marking up, the NDAA, then there’s no reason to even do the NDAA from the House perspective.
So, we do know that good things are going to happen. We’re implementing the National Defense Strategy. We’ve talked about the National Defense Strategy several times here on the floor, and I think we’ve done a very good job in putting together this.
And you know, most importantly, we’re supporting our all-volunteer force. I was one of them. I may be the last person on the Senate Armed Services Committee who still believes in compulsory service. I often wonder what would happened to my life if I hadn’t been drafted. I always remember coming back at Christmastime when Eisenhower was president. I was enrolled in the University of Mexico and looked in the mailbox, and there was a card. It was from the president, and I thought, “How nice of the president to remember me at Christmastime.” It was my draft notice. So that changed my plans. And I often wonder where I’d be today if I hadn’t had that experience.
So anyway, we are going to provide our Armed Forces with adequate funding, and I hope we can find a budget solution. We can’t do it with a continuing resolution. We’ve asked all our leaders in committee hearings why, what would happen if we did a continuing resolution, and it just wouldn’t work and I think we all realize that. It puts us people who are budget hawks, like me, and military hawks in a very awkward situation because we have a situation, as a result of eight years of Obama, we had a thing called parity. For every dollar, you put in the military, you’re going to have to put a dollar that will go into nondefense programs. This is something that doesn’t work, so a continuing resolution is something that should not be an option.
This responsibility carries a great weight now. We ask our men and women in uniform to do more in the face of a more dangerous and unpredictable world than any time. And I think the Trump Administration is right. They try to categorize our two threats that are out there—one being the threat of the rogue nations that are out there, and we’re talking about North Korea and some of these nations. And we also have the major threat of the great power threat. This is one we face—we know that, yes, we’re used to dealing with the threats of the rogue nation—but after the eight years of the Obama administration, we watched Russia and China forge ahead of us in many areas—hypersonic weapons is a good example—and this is something that is taking place now.
So during that period of time, during the last five years of the Obama administration, the amount of money we had to run our military with was reduced by almost 25 percent. Now we’ve made up a lot of this. In fiscal year ‘18 and fiscal year ’19, thanks to the Trump administration, we have increased that funding back up to $700 billion and again to $716 billion, and this time, I think we’re going to be at $750 billion. Now there’s some dispute as to what the exact figure will be, but nevertheless we’re starting to rebuild.
We’ll be modernizing our force, including our nuclear arsenal, now in order to maintain our military superiority—or to regain, is a better word than maintain, because we’ve actually lost some of our superiority—well into the future. Our Armed Forces have long been the best in the world, but we have problems now in trying to rebuild, and that’s what this is all about.
And we’ll support our troops and their families, who sacrifice a great deal to protect our nation. This includes making meaningful reforms to privatized on-base housing. We went through this housing trauma. Just the other day, we found out a lot of people are not being treated properly. A lot of spouses of our members and our members are living in housing that is totally unacceptable. But we came to that realization, and we’re correcting it now, and it’s going to be corrected even further in the defense authorization bill that we’re going to be marking up a week from today.
So we want to thank every man and woman who ever put on a uniform and those who are doing this in the defense of the country. We want to congratulate them, and pay particular attention to them, and support them in every way that we can.
The fabric of our nation is stronger because of you guys in uniform and those who have been in uniform, and will endure for years to come because of your service. God bless all of the men and women in uniform.