U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.), the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, held a press conference today with other members of the committee to discuss dangerous cuts to defense spending contained in Sen. Harry Reid's bill. He released the following opening statement as prepared for delivery:
"Good Afternoon and thank to my fellow Armed Services Committee members for joining me.
"Last night, for the second time, House of Representatives passed a responsible plan to arrest this nation's spiraling federal deficit and avoid a government default. Senator Reid dismissed this pragmatic way forward, offering a proposal that little more than political smoke and mirrors.
"Let me put this plainly. Leader Reid's plan would give the President full freedom to continue his domestic spending spree, while doing nothing to address our out of control deficit. It makes insignificant reforms to the real driver of our debt, entitlement programs, while hacking away at the dwindling resources needed by our Armed Forces to keep America safe.
"This President and Senate allies have, for three straight years, tried to pay for massive and irresponsible increases in domestic spending on the shoulders of our troops, severing funding for our military by nearly half a trillion dollars. That policy has failed. Our debt has exploded, while our military has withered.
"Our men and women in uniform have done too much for our safety, our security, and our freedom to be shortchanged by the President and his allies. We owe them our liberty, but this Administration treats them as just another number on the chalkboard.
"The impact on our troops has been nothing short of frightening. Our Navy fleet is eroding, the smallest it has been since 1916. The Army and Marines are stretched dangerously thin, separated from their families and using hardware that has been chewed up by a decade of fighting. In 1990, the Air Force had 82 fighter squadrons, today it has just 39. Those planes average over 30 years of age, forcing constant maintenance to keep them in the air.
"These brave warriors have been willfully neglected for too long.
"Let me put this plainly. If Senator Reid's plan passes, if we stand idly by while this Administration pays down its domestic spending spree with the blood and sweat of our troops, our military will break.
"By accepting three long years of defense cuts, we have allowed ourselves to be distracted from the massive entitlement programs that are actually bankrupting this country.
"That stops here.
"The budget we submitted last night cancels President Obama's credit card. It creates the conditions necessary for businesses to flourish. It shrinks our government. And most importantly, it halts three years of neglect to our Armed Forces."