Tester to Defense Secretary: America’s Strength is Reflected in Economic Security and National Security

Senator Warns Against Putting Military Operations on Grandkids’ Credit Card

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today discussed budget priorities with Defense Secretary James Mattis and warned against sacrificing America’s economic security.

Tester pressed Mattis during a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing to ensure military service members have the proper equipment and training to keep the nation safe, but also raised concerns that the Administration’s proposed budget guts agencies that are critical to preventing conflict and fails to address the federal government’s growing debt.

“I fully support ensuring that our troops have everything they need to keep this nation safe,” Tester said. “The President’s budget, however, goes about it the wrong way. While gutting the budgets of other agencies critical to preventing conflict, the President’s budget continues the trend of putting military operations on a credit card, and ultimately forces our kids and grandkids to pay for this increase.”

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget slashes the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Education while drastically reducing the State Department’s budget by nearly 30 percent.

“In my opinion, our nation’s strength isn’t only reflected by the size and capabilities of our military, it is reflected in the strength of our schools, our health care system, and our nation’s infrastructure,” Tester added. “Our strength is reflected in our economic security and national security.”

Tester additionally urged Mattis to meet the previous administration’s schedule for replacement of the Vietnam-era Huey helicopters at Malmstrom Air Force Base by 2019. Tester secured funding for new aircrafts and a facility to safely store them in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act and Military Construction Appropriations bill.

Tester also pushed Mattis to ensure each member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is contributing their fair share to collective security operations. Mattis told Tester that Russia poses the number one strategic challenge to the United States during the hearing, and therefore it is critical that all NATO members meet their commitments to our shared security interests.

Tester is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which provides funding for the entire federal government. Tester is also the Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.