- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee said the panel’s new Democratic majority was short-changing the military as lawmakers Wednesday marked up a proposed $733 billion defense authorization bill for FY2020 that challenges a number of President Trump’s top priorities.

Roughly one hour into the day-long review of the bill, Republican members of the committee expressed concern with the overall funding level and called to raise the total budget to $750 billion, putting line with the blueprint released by the GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee.

“There are real concrete things that is the difference between what we can do for our troops and what we can do for the nation at $733 [billion] versus $750 [billion],” Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the panel’s ranking Republican and former chairman, argued, citing the need for developing hypersonic weapons and repairing military bases damaged in recent hurricanes.

The Democratic-led panel on Monday released a draft of the defense budget which proposed a 2.3% increase to the defense budget. The bill also included a number of policy moves, including new restrictions on using the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainee facility, a ban on funding a “low-yield” nuclear weapon, and withholding any Pentagon funds for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

“I think every single member of this committee can have a ton of examples of where the [Defense Department] has wasted money shamelessly,” committee Chairman Adam Smith said during the hearing.

The Washington Democrat maintained his argument from earlier this week that if the department was given an additional $17 billion, “the Pentagon will not be efficient with the dollars.”

Mr. Thornberry fired back, saying, “The notion that ‘you don’t give them what they want and that’s just going to squeeze out ways’ has empirically been proven not to be the case,” pointing to a rise in training accidents within the military when spending was slashed. He also attacked the policy riders contained in the budget bill

“I am concerned that by imposing another insufficient and arbitrary topline, the [Democratic bill] is forcing those unwise choices once again,” Mr. Thornberry said in a statement Tuesday.

At Wednesday’s full committee meeting, the Texas Republican’s push for a 3% to 5% funding increase was met with support among GOP members of the committee as well as Sen. Deb Fischer, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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