Sullivan, Senate Colleagues Call on Biden to Prioritize National Defense
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), led a press conference yesterday with several of his Senate Republican colleagues, including SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), calling on President Joe Biden to prioritize national defense and homeland security in the administration’s budget proposals. According to the Washington Post, the president’s $6 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 budget request increases discretionary funding dramatically for most departments and agencies, but increases to the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security do not even keep up with inflation.
Also on Thursday, Sen. Sullivan made the case for a robust defense budget on the floor of the Senate.
Transcript of Sen. Sullivan’s Opening Remarks
Good afternoon, everybody. We are here as we are heading home for the 4th of July weekend. We're all getting ready to celebrate freedom, independence, and our liberty. I'm sure you've all seen [the words] at the Korean War memorial engraved in stone: “Freedom is not free.” That is something we're all going to be celebrating—the sacrifices of our military [which] have kept us free for hundreds of years, not just in our country, of course, but all around the world.
I had the opportunity to travel with a couple of my Democratic colleagues—Senator Coons and Senator Duckworth—recently to Korea and Taiwan. [When] you go to those countries, you feel that sense of pride as an American because there's no way you would have those economically-vibrant democracies without the sacrifice of our military. It's safe to say, actually, that hundreds of millions of people around the world have been freed from oppression and tyranny because of the U.S. military. That's a fact and, of course, it costs money.
Budgets are a reflection of an administration’s values and priorities. Many of us believe that defending our nation should be the number-one priority. What we are here to talk about and highlight is, when you look at the $6 trillion Biden blow-out [budget], they [do not] prioritize military spending—the Department of Defense and spending for our military—it's not just prioritized number one or number two relative to all the other federal agencies. It is dead last. Dead last. When you look at where the inflation numbers are, it's actually a cut of almost 3%. Everything else [gets] double digit [increases]. The military is dead last and [it’s] dangerous.
Last week, we had the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Milley and Secretary Austin, in front of the Armed Services Committee and I had the opportunity to ask them, “How do you tell our troops that we are prioritizing our military?” The answer is, you can't. The Biden administration is not. Just look at the budget, just look at the numbers. So, like so many things here, like so much else with this administration, the fingerprints of the far left are all over this budget.
Since the end of the Vietnam War, the far left of the Democratic Party has really been the anti-military party. And if you remember last summer, we passed this out—some of you may have seen this. This was Bernie Sanders’ amendment to the NDAA. It was literally called the “Defund the Pentagon” amendment. 14% across-the-board cuts. Chuck Schumer was a cosponsor of that. We defeated it, but, unfortunately, now that they're in power—the Senate majority leader and the chairman of the budget committee—they might have the last laugh. But, of course, this is no laughing matter.
Tomorrow, some of you might know, June 25, is the 71st anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. In the summer of 1950, thousands of Americans died because our forces weren't ready, because military leaders—uniformed and civilian—had dramatically cut our defense budgets and they weren't prioritizing our military.
We can never let that happen again. We are here to call on the president to prioritize our national security, our troops, particularly as we head into this Independence Day weekend. And, importantly, we want you in the media to do this too. Talk to our pro-defense Democratic senators. See if they support this. I can tell you they don't. I've talked to many of them. See what they think. So we are calling on them to fight for a real budget that dramatically increases, not cuts, our military spending. This is a huge issue for our party. It should be for all Americans, and it should be bipartisan. I'm proud to have [so many of] my Senate colleagues here.
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