Leading Defense Subcommittee Hearing, Tester Slams National Security Risk of Default & “flat stupid” Hold on Military Promotions for Jeopardizing Readiness
Senator: “We have got to get the budget done so that the men and women in uniform… can go about their business of keeping us safe”;
“Take the holds off the military promotions because quite frankly, it’s flat stupid and politicizing our military”
U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, led a hearing today questioning Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on whether the President’s 2024 Budget proposal provides the Department of Defense all of the tools needed to defend our national security.
Tester made an impassioned plea for Congress to avoid a default and slammed a Republican member’s holds on military promotions, emphasizing that both limit the ability of our military to keep the country safe.
“I can tell you what Congress can do to make things easier, not default on our debt like the House of Representatives wants us to do. Get a budget done on time, so we don’t have, these guys, don’t have to deal with the uncertainty of a [continuing resolution]. Take the holds off the military promotions because quite frankly, it’s flat stupid and politicizing our military… But the truth is this: Congress needs to step up and do their job if we want to hold you guys accountable, if we want to hold the contractors that supply us with our military equipment accountable, we need to do our job. And part of that job is making sure that we give it a budget that makes sure to keep this country safe. And the other part of it is just not do stupid things like [continuing resolutions] and defaults and holding military promotions.”
Additionally, Tester emphasized that disputes over the debt ceiling will only embolden foreign adversaries who want to undermine America’s role as the world’s economic superpower.
“While we are busy fighting amongst ourselves, the Chinese continue their military buildup and aggressive behavior. The Russians continue their unjust war against Ukraine. Iran is continuing its malign influence in the Middle East and violent terrorist organizations plot to do us harm. We have got to get the budget done so that the men and women in uniform supported by the tireless civilians at the Department of Defense can go about their business of keeping us safe.”
As part of his line of questioning for Secretary Austin and General Milley, Tester pressed both leaders on how a potential government default would impact U.S. military readiness and pay, saying, “I want you to talk about how a potential government default would impact your ongoing efforts.” Secretary Austin responded that a government default would put troops’ pay at risk, saying, “What it would mean real realistically for us is that we won’t, in some cases be able to pay our troops with any degree of predictability. And that predictability is really, really important for us. But this would have a real impact on the pockets of our troops and our civilians.”
Tester has led the charge to protect America’s place as the world’s leading economic power. As Chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Tester is committed to securing a budget that will ensure the Department of Defense has the tools it needs to better prevent these evolving threats.
During a Defense Subcommittee hearing last week, Tester called for Congress to reach a commonsense resolution on the debt ceiling in order to make sure our military and defense agencies are fully funded.
Today’s hearing was part of Tester’s week of Senate action to counter China, which includes:
- Wednesday May 10th at 10:30 a.m. ET – Closed full Senate Appropriations Committee briefing on Review of the President’s FY 2024 Budget President’s FY24 Budget, U.S. Competitiveness, and the US-China relationship;
- Thursday May 11th at 9:00 am ET – Open Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the Department of Defense with Secretary Austin and General Milley;
- Tuesday May 16th at 10:00 am ET – Classified Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for Hypersonic Threats, Missile Defense, and the Protection of the U.S Homeland to receive updates on the Chinese spy balloon.
- Tuesday May 16th at 2:00 pm ET – Open full Senate Appropriations Committee briefing on A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request: Investing in U.S. Security and Competitiveness, and the Path Ahead for the U.S.-China Relationship;