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Weekly Column: Keeping America Safe

Protecting our nation through a strong defense system is a fundamental role of the federal government. As ever-growing threats emerge, we must remain diligent in our abilities to protect our nation and our allies. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has oversight of our nation’s military and the Department of Defense, I am committed to making sure our men and women in uniform are equipped with adequate funding. They put everything on the line to protect our freedoms; we owe it to them to provide these heroes with the proper tools and resources to successfully complete their missions.

Since taking office in January, one issue that has been at the forefront of the committee throughout hearings and briefings is what is commonly known as “sequestration.” Sequestration was implemented in a 2011 law called the Budget Control Act (BCA). BCA was the result of a previous Congress’ failure to agree on a federal budget that arbitrarily cut nearly $1 trillion from the Defense Department’s budget over the course of ten years. The intent of BCA was to chip away at federal spending, but it failed to address the largest piece of federal spending – entitlements. Instead, BCA unfairly made cuts to defense spending, which is not to blame for our runaway debt, threatening military readiness and capabilities.

From the border battle in Ukraine and enhanced Chinese coercion in Asia to the growing prowess of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East, new threats have emerged around the globe since sequestration was signed into law. Yet sequestration is still in place. Our military budget continues to be squeezed. It’s time for both parties to work together to eliminate sequestration and provide our military with the funding levels needed to keep our nation safe from our enemies.

On the Senate Armed Services Committee, I applaud Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) for being leaders on this issue. We have heard over and over from leaders from throughout the Defense Department about the devastating impacts accompanying sequestration. Like me, many of these military leaders believe that sequestration is a part of a larger threat to our overall defense. Without adequate funding, our entire national security strategy is threatened, both overseas and here at home.

The Senate Budget Resolution that recently passed provided a path to address these cuts to defense spending. While it is not a perfect solution, it is substantially better than the alternative. Our budget resolution offers a short-term patch for the upcoming fiscal year. But a long-term solution is desperately needed. The men and women in uniform who risk their lives to keep us safe should not be continually asked to do more with less. Ending sequestration permanently remains one of my top priorities on the Armed Services Committee.

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