WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today reacted to the defense portion of President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2011 (FY11).
“Defending America is the number one constitutionally-mandated function of government,” Inhofe said. “While there are good programs included in the President’s budget, the core defense budget will fall from 3.6 percent of GDP in FY11 to 3.2 percent of GDP by FY15. That’s not doing enough to protect this nation. When the cost of simply operating and sustaining our military outpaces inflation on average by 3 percent each year, these levels of funding do not allow us to properly take care of our men and women in uniform, fully fund operations overseas, modernize our aging military fleets, and properly sustain our old equipment.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified at a SASC hearing today on the budget. During the hearing, Inhofe sought answers from Gates on the issues of missile defense plan timing and capabilities, funds to modernize the Army’s ground combat vehicles, and the transfer of civilian-to-civilian (1207) security and stabilization funds from the oversight of the Defense Department to the State Department.
As a result of Inhofe Amendment 742 to the 2009 Congressional Budget that allows advance appropriations to the Veteran Affairs Department for the Medical Services, Medical Administration, Medical Facilities, and Medical and Prosthetic Research accounts of the Veterans Health Administration, the Obama budget includes $50.6 billion in advance appropriations for VA Medical Care. Advanced appropriations are not additional funds, but rather the availability to use funding in the next fiscal year for the continuity of programs regardless of when the VA appropriations bill is passed.
In 19 of the last 22 years, Congress has been unsuccessful in passing annual funding for veterans health care on time. Inhofe’s amendment provides a solution through advance appropriations for veterans’ health care to ensuring a timely and predictable funding flow from fiscal year to fiscal year resulting in better medical care for our men and women in uniform.
Inhofe also pointed other good items for veterans included in the budget including an increase VA funds by 10 percent over the FY10 enacted budget levels, and funds that will provide assistance for 500,000 previously ineligible veterans.