“I’m here today fighting for this budget addition—the additional $30 billion,” declared the Honorable James Mattis (Secretary, Department of Defense (DOD)), referencing the supplemental funding request for DOD for fiscal year (FY) 2017.
Testifying before the Defense Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Secretary Mattis and General Joseph Dunford, Jr. (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff) pushed for the extra $30 billion appropriations supplemental, while committee members from both sides of the aisle raised concern with how this increase to DOD would impact non-defense discretionary spending – which would be hit by $18 billion in unspecified cuts to accommodate the increase. Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (VT) insisted that “slashing” non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs “is not a solution” because DOD is not the only agency involved in maintaining our national security; for example, failing infrastructure creates “vulnerabilities in our bridges, our water systems,” and ultimately, our economy. Senator Jon Tester (MT) agreed, adding “our nation’s strength isn’t only reflected by the size and capability of our military, it’s also reflected in the strength of our schools, our health care system, our nation’s infrastructure.” Senator Brian Schatz (HI) also pointed out that that the U.S. Coast Guard is managed by the Department of Homeland Security, which faces significant budget reductions. The Fiscal Year 2017 DOD Appropriations (Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017, H.R.1301) has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate. COL has long supported funding for NDD programs, most recently joining 2,000 other organizations in a letter to Congress highlighting their importance and asking that they be protected from further cuts.