Continuing her efforts to eliminate funding for a failed weapons program that will never reach the battlefield, U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has introduced bipartisan legislation that will cut fiscal year (FY) 2013 funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) - which Ayotte has called the "missile to nowhere." Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) is an original co-sponsor of the bill.
Last month, as the Senate considered a $1 trillion catch-all spending package that funds government for the rest of the year, a few Senate appropriators ignored the spending prohibition, added $381 million for MEADS, and blocked an amendment that Senator Ayotte introduced that sought to eliminate the MEADS funding. Days later, during consideration of the non-binding budget resolution, the Senate overwhelmingly approved (94 to 5) an Ayotte amendment to the budget aimed at scrapping money for MEADS.
"Taxpayers shouldn't have to keep paying for a failed weapons program that our troops will never use," said Senator Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "With nearly $17 trillion in debt, we can't afford business as usual spending. There is near unanimous support in the Senate for cutting funding for the "missile to nowhere,' and the legislation I'm introducing will better support our troops."
The legislation Ayotte and Begich introduced would rescind money appropriated for MEADS in the FY 2013 spending bill and transfer the money to Department of Defense operations and maintenance, which funds the day-to-day costs of operating our armed forces, maintaining our military's weapon systems, and training our service members. Operations and maintenance is critical to military readiness, and the Pentagon is projecting a major shortfall in the operations and maintenance budget because of sequestration.
Senator Ayotte has led the fight to eliminate funding for MEADS. Last year, she successfully included a provision in the FY 2013 defense authorization bill that prohibits funding for the program.
MEADS - which has cost nearly $3 billion so far - has been plagued by consistent scheduling delays, cost overruns, and an overall failure to meet performance requirements. The Pentagon has said it does not intend to procure the program.