- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2000

It is important to set the record straight on who is responsible for the nation's deteriorating military, and who is responsi-
ble for pumping billions of dollars back into essential quality of life programs, troop readiness and equipment modernization.
Let it be known that the Clinton-Gore Administration has fought, tooth and nail, every effort the Republican Congress has made over the past six years to boost military spending. Every year, when the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and Armed Services Committees pass bills to increase funding for our men and women in uniform, the proposals are met with grumbling and veto threats from the Clinton-Gore White House.
It is only because of the Republican Congress that more than $50 billion was added to President Clinton's last six military budgets.
It is only because of the Republican Congress, that a 4.8 percent pay raise was provided for military personnel this year the largest in nearly two decades. This funding has enhanced the quality of life for the nation's 2.2 million active-duty, reserve and National Guard personnel.
It is only because of the Republican Congress that multibillion-dollar military health care shortfalls, resulting from proposed Clinton-Gore defense budgets, were fixed. The Congress added $1.6 billion to defense medical care programs for the current fiscal year and another half billion to the upcoming year, to make up for the inadequacies in the president's budget. Some of the additional funds are intended to expand pharmacy access to hundreds of thousands of military retirees.
It is only because of the Republican Congress that dilapidated housing conditions are improving on the nation's military bases. Over the last two years alone, more than $800 million has been added to the president's budget for Real Property Maintenance.
It is only because of the Republican Congress that the military's continuing spare parts problem is on the mend. Every year, the Clinton-Gore military budget has failed to adequately address the issues of spare parts and equipment modernization, which jeopardizes the safety and effectiveness of our servicemen and servicewomen whose lives are on the line every day. Congress has added $1.6 billion to the president's request for spare parts over the last three years.
Congress' efforts to boost military spending are continuously complicated by Clinton-Gore commitments abroad, which topped a record 48 peace enforcement and combat missions by 1999 at a cumulative cost of more than $25 billion to American taxpayers. These missions continue to strain an already overburdened and underfunded military. For example, to support these operations in each of the past six years, the Congress has had to produce billions of dollars in emergency supplemental funds in the spring. This year, the price tag for Kosovo alone was $2 billion-funding that draws down readiness accounts until Congress passes legislation to pay the bills. It is almost laughable to watch the Clinton-Gore administration attempt to take credit for addressing military needs, when its own Joint Chiefs of Staff come before our committees each year with long lists of needs not met in the president's budget, because their requests to their commander in chief have fallen on deaf ears. Not once, in the last six years, has the president or vice President gotten personally involved in trying to solve the widely reported problems relating to quality-of-life issues, readiness or modernization among the nation's forces. In fact, as the president and his defense secretary point to their plan to increase military spending $112 billion over six years, the Joint Chiefs are telling the Congress the plan falls $84 billion short.
While the Clinton-Gore administration turned its back on the nation's military in order to place maximum attention on its domestic and social agenda, it should not be forgotten who held the hearings on military quality of life and readiness; who proposed and fought for pay increases for the country's men and women in uniform; who highlighted equipment failures and modernization problems, and who ultimately paid all the bills the Republican Congress.


Rep. C.W. (Bill) Young, Florida Republican, is chairman of the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee. Rep. Jerry Lewis, California Republican, is chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

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