Armed Services leaders endorse Senate budget deal

Armed Services leaders endorse Senate budget deal
© Greg Nash

The leaders of the Senate and House Armed Services committees endorsed a bipartisan budget deal announced by Senate leaders Wednesday.

“This budget agreement is indispensable for our national security,” Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCain20 years after 9/11, US foreign policy still struggles for balance What the chaos in Afghanistan can remind us about the importance of protecting democracy at home 'The View' plans series of conservative women as temporary McCain replacements MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (R-Texas) said in a joint statement. “Without it, our military would not be able to defend our nation, as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and our military leaders have repeatedly warned. Today’s agreement will provide our men and women in uniform with the training, capabilities and support they need to keep America safe and rise to all of the challenges that we ask of them.”

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Earlier Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnell'Justice for J6' rally puts GOP in awkward spot Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally House to act on debt ceiling next week MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) announced an agreement to keep the government open and raise budget caps on defense and nondefense spending.

On the defense side, the deal would mean $700 billion for defense in fiscal year 2018 and $716 billion in fiscal 2019.

The bipartisan deal is likely to pass the Senate, but its fate in the House is unclear. House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Raise the debt limit while starting to fix the budget   'Justice for J6' organizer calls on demonstrators to respect law enforcement MORE (D-Calif.) has pledged to oppose it without a commitment from Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.) to address immigration, and some conservatives are likely to defect over various issues.

But support in the House from defense hawks, over whom Thornberry holds sway, gives the deal a boost.

On Wednesday afternoon, 13 Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee stood alongside Thornberry at a press conference to tout their support for the deal.

"I suspect every person here has concerns about it, would write it differently than is currently being written, but that's not the choice. This is a negotiated compromise," Thornberry said, adding that he thinks it will pass. "And I think the people who are concerned about the consequences of debt have very good points. There are real consequences to mounting debt. At the same time, there are real consequences to not providing the resources to fix your planes and ships, and we saw some of those consequences in the past year."

Defense hawks have become increasingly agitated at the cycle of stopgap spending measures that have been used to fund the government since September.

Boosting their position has been increasingly stern warnings from Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman Mattis20 years after 9/11, we've logged successes but the fight continues Defense & National Security — The mental scars of Afghanistan House panel advances 8B defense bill MORE on the harmful effects of Congress’s budget dysfunction.

“Congress mandated, rightfully mandated this National Defense Strategy — the first one in a decade — then shut down the government the day of its release. Today, we are again operating under a disruptive continuing resolution,” Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. “I regret that without sustained, predictable appropriations, my presence here today wastes your time because no strategy can survive, as you pointed out chairman, without the funding necessary to resource it.”

In their statement Wednesday, Thornberry and McCain said the budget agreement “finally” does what they’ve been calling for.

“After nearly a decade of asking our troops to do more with less, we hope this agreement will allow the military to begin to rebuild and ensure that process can continue into next year,” they said. “But our work is far from over. While we have committed to a budget, we owe our troops an even greater commitment — not to slide back into dysfunction, not to hold their resources hostage to unrelated political concerns, and never send them into harm’s way without everything they need to be successful.”

They also praised the deal’s inclusion of funding for other agencies important to national security.

“We recognize that our national security is not solely the responsibility of our military,” they said. “It also depends on our intelligence professionals, our diplomats, our law enforcement officers, first responders and homeland defenders. These Americans also have many worthy requirements for additional resources so they can do their jobs, often shoulder to shoulder with our men and women in uniform.”

Updated at 5:14 p.m.