After a proposed amendment to add $18 billion to the Pentagon budget fell four votes short last week during Senate debate of the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is vowing to take up the fight over DOD spending when the chamber considers the defense appropriations bill.
“I think they’re going to get to vote again, and I think I am going to go all over the country and talk about what we the Congress are doing to those who serve us,” Graham told reporters Friday. “I am making it my No. 1 reason to live,” he said, reported the Hill.
The amendment, sponsored by Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.), failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to advance after 11 Republican senators voted with Democrats to defeat it. The proposal would have authorized spending an additional $18 billion through DOD’s overseas contingency operations account to get around the statutory spending cap. The extra funds were intended to restore shortfalls in readiness.
Graham, a close ally of McCain, pledged to meet with each of the fiscal hawks who rejected the proposal in an effort to change their minds before the defense spending bill comes to the floor.
“I am going to break the back of this movement,” he said.
Graham spoke on the chamber floor the previous day to urge lawmakers to adopt the amendment.
“Here’s what the commandant of the Marine Corps said about the current state of readiness. Our aviation units are currently unable to meet our training mission requirements primarily due to ready basic aircraft shortfalls. I can tell you in the Marine Corps today, 70 percent of the F-18s have a problem meeting combat status,” he said.
“I can tell you today that the Army is stretched unlike any time I’ve ever seen. I can tell you today that the Navy is robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep the ships on the ocean and with the numbers we have in terms of defense spending, they’re having to forego modernization to deal with the readiness, to deal with the ability to fight the war.”
Don’t miss your opportunity to hear Graham speak next week during the Defense Communities 2016 National Summit. Graham will be a keynote speaker — along with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), ranking member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee — during the Defense Community Awards Luncheon on June 21.