Ryan apologizes to nation's top general for questioning Pentagon's truthfulness

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday he has apologized to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey for claiming military leaders had not honestly stated their budget requirements.

Speaking at a recent policy forum, Ryan suggested the nation’s top generals had downplayed their funding needs to accommodate President Obama’s goal of reducing defense spending.


“We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice. We don’t think generals believe that their budget is really the right budget,” Ryan said at the event last week.

Dempsey swiftly pushed back against Ryan’s comment.

“There’s a difference between having someone say they don’t believe what you said versus … calling us, collectively, liars,” Dempsey said. ”My response is I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”

Ryan backpedaled from his comments Sunday during appearances on CNN’s “State of the Union” and ABC’s “This Week.”

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“I really misspoke,” Ryan said on CNN. “I didn’t mean to make that kind of impression. So I was clumsy in how I was describing the point I was trying to make.”

When asked if he had apologized to Dempsey, Ryan said: “Yeah, I called him and told him that.”

Ryan said he was merely arguing that the White House had set its defense spending target primarily on budgetary instead of national-security considerations.

“We just believe that what we got from the White House was more of a budget-driven strategy and not a strategy-driven budget, and I did not mean to impugn the integrity of the military in any way,” he said.

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