Building a strong military
The defense of our nation is one of few sacred roles our founders enumerated for the federal government. After years of military atrophy due to cuts in defense spending, I am happy to see funding restored with the goal of restoring readiness.
During the last week of June, the House of Representatives approved its version of the 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill, which funds the production of multiple ships, expands military staffing, and provides the largest pay raise for our troops in nearly a decade.
Over the course of three days, the House considered and debated 50 amendments to this funding measure which received overwhelming bipartisan support for final passage in a vote of 359-49. Contained in the bill is funding for two additional Ford class aircraft carriers for a total of 12 new Navy ships and 93 F-35 joint strike fighters.
The bill also expands our active and reserve military ranks by 15,600 troops while providing a 2.6 percent pay increase for those currently serving. The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to begin consideration of its version in the first week of July, which will likely be considered by the full Senate later in the month and conferenced with the House version shortly thereafter.
Also during the last week in June, I joined my Nebraska congressional colleagues to send a letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson urging her to assess the readiness of the 55th Wing at Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base. The 55th Wing is charged with maintaining and operating our C-135 reconnaissance aircraft, which appear to have fallen into a state of disrepair due to their age. Earlier this year, I was happy to support authorizing the modernization of our C-135 fleet.
It is deeply unfortunate the funding of our military and national defense was subjugated to other priorities during the prior administration. Again and again our military has been called upon to operate in both times of war and humanitarian relief without being given the funding levels necessary to sustain ongoing operations and maintain readiness.
For this reason, I am pleased President Trump has made the rebuilding of our military a priority, giving our men and women in uniform the support they deserve as they protect the American way of life. I will continue to encourage legislation which provides for this essential function of government while looking for ways to cut nonessential spending.