WASHINGTON DC – Wednesday morning in the nation's Capitol, U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), who serves as chairman of the House Republican Budget Committee, offered comments to open the discussion about President Joe Biden's proposed Department of Defense 2023 budget.
Welcome, Under Secretary McCord. Thank you for being here.
The last time you were here, America was facing a number of crises – at the border, at the checkout line, at the gas pump. Republicans warned that the agenda President Biden was pursuing would only make these crises worse.
Sadly, it turns out that we were right.
Prices have spiked to the highest levels in forty years – a 10.4 percent increase since Joe Biden took office. The cost of gas is through the roof – 88.9 percent increase since Biden took office. We have seen 2.9 million encounters at the southern border since Biden took office.
These crises did not happen overnight – or when Putin invaded Ukraine, as the White House is fond of arguing. They are the direct result of the policies being pursued by this Administration.
This year’s budget from President Biden promotes the same failed policies, and the defense budget is not immune from the Administration’s misplaced priorities.
At a time when inflation is 8.5 percent, 10.4 percent since Joe Biden took the oath of office, robbing the wallets of American families and eroding the purchasing power of federal agencies, it’s critical that tax dollars go to their best possible use. But the President’s defense budget does not do that.
For example, the defense budget dedicates $3.1 billion to climate projects.
Europe is experiencing the largest land invasion since World War II. President Biden executed a horrific withdrawal from Afghanistan that cost American lives, including a Missourian, and emboldened our enemies. China has an aggressive eye focused on Taiwan. Iran continues its march toward a nuclear weapon – but the President wants to spend finite taxpayer resources for butterflies and snakes.
The request for Iron Dome funding is the bare minimum and 92 percent lower than what Congress just agreed to spend to support our ally Israel. The only mention of Iron Dome in the budget is buried in an appendix. Meanwhile, the President wants to spend $34 million to address “extremism” in the military.
If we are going to talk about extremism, let’s talk about the 42 individuals on the terror watch list that have been apprehended at our southern border since President Biden took office. With the President set to end the Title 42 border policy and likely double to 18,000 the number of illegal immigrants trying to cross the border every day, I hope our military leaders are talking to the President about how this is not just an immigration problem – it’s a national security crisis.
We know DHS will need to continue calling DOD for help. That’s going to impact the military’s bottom line while at the same time the President in his budget is telling our military to be sure it funds implementation of a DOD report on “equity.”
These are funds that will not be used to arm and protect our men and women in uniform.
Given these circumstances, we must have as much transparency on the part of DOD and the Administration about where funds are going and how they are being spent. We need accounting of resources like those left behind in Afghanistan that are now arming the Taliban. We need the Biden Administration to maintain the commitment we saw under President Trump to have the Defense Department conduct an audit so that Congress and the American people know how and where tax dollars are being spent so we can ensure resources are getting to the places they are needed the most.
The national security threats at our border and around the world, the highest spike in prices in forty years, skyrocketing energy costs – President Biden may see these as an inconvenient political problem, but American families see them as a crisis. I fear our enemies will see them as weakness. We need a budget that takes these problems seriously.