Secretary Mattis Responds After Senate Reaches Spending Deal Worth Nearly $400 Billion
Defense Secretary James Mattis reacted Wednesday to news that Senate lawmakers have reached a long-term spending deal to keep the federal government funded.
The deal raises federal spending by roughly $400 billion over the next two years, according to NPR. In 2018 alone, defense spending is being boosted by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion, with even bigger increases coming in 2019.
Speaking at a White House news briefing, Mattis praised the agreement, noting that without a budget deal, the U.S. military would not have the funding necessary to carry out crucial functions.
Aircraft would have to be grounded and warships would not be properly maintained, he said. In short, America’s ability to defend itself would be severely impeded.
“I cannot overstate the negative impact to our troops and families’ morale from all this budget uncertainty,” he said.
But, he indicated that the deal reached by legislators will ensure that the military is able to “pass on” the liberties Americans enjoy “to the next generation.”
“Today’s congressional action will ensure our military can defend our way of life, preserve the promise of prosperity, and pass on the freedoms you and I enjoy to the next generation,” Mattis said.
The budget agreement, negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, was reached just one day before the federal government would have shut down.
In addition to raising spending by $400 billion, the legislation suspends the debt ceiling and allocates $80 billion in disaster relief aid to the victims of hurricanes and wildfires in states like Texas, California, Florida and Puerto Rico, NPR reported.
“No one would suggest it’s perfect, but we worked hard to find common ground,” McConnell said as he announced the deal from the Senate floor.
He also echoed Mattis, emphasizing the importance of making sure the military is funded.
“The compromise we’ve reached will ensure for the first time in years our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep them safe,” he said.
Like McConnell, Schumer touted the agreement, claiming it will “break the long cycle of spending crises.”
“This budget deal is a genuine breakthrough,” said Schumer.
Now, the agreement will have to make it though the House of Representatives, where Speaker Paul Ryan has already announced that he will support it.
But not all conservatives agree.
Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry said he is disillusioned by the size of the spending bill.
“There’s no reason to be doing this,” he said, according to The Washington Times. “Too much money. It’s just too much.”
Justin Bogie, a senior policy analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation, opposes the bill’s spending increases.
“The country cannot afford an irresponsible plan that welcomes back trillion-dollar deficits with open arms. Congress should reject this deal,” Bogie told NPR.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced her opposition to the bill, citing a lack of action on immigration reform.
“This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House,” Pelosi said in a statement, referring to the recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,” she added, according to CNN.
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