Our world is more dangerous than ever. Yet over the past eight years America's military budget has taken one attack after another in Washington, shrinking it to dangerous levels. Last year more of our military died in training accidents than in war. Everyone who has a loved one serving our country knows this. It's unacceptable.
Actions speak louder than words. Last week lawmakers in both parties of Congress found plenty of excuses not to stand by the men and women risking their lives for our freedom and security. I respect their vote. But I see it much differently. My first constitutional duty is to support our national defense, and I cast my vote 'yes' for the largest rebuilding of America's military in 15 years.
This means more troops, new weapons systems, better training and readiness and building new ships, aircraft and tankers. It includes the largest pay raise in eight years—even that's not enough for their sacrifices. And the highest funding for veteran’s care in U.S. history. For all their sacrifices, don't our veterans deserve it?
I think of the nearly 50 men and women in my congressional district who gave their lives in the War on Terror. I think of the wounded warriors who struggle to cope daily. I recently ran into a military family whose parent is on their sixth or seventh tour of duty in the Middle East and know how hard that's been on them. With a brother in the U.S. Army and a father buried in the Black Hills National Cemetery, I don't think it's tough at all to back up your words of military support with a 'yes' vote.
Our armed forces need a nation, a Congress, and a President who has their backs. Count me in.
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Here's a few more things about the funding bill. It strongly funded the STOP School Violence Act that protects our schools, improved the national background check system for buying firearms, stepped up the fight against the dangerous opioid epidemic, began rebuilding America's infrastructure, and increased research funding into many of America's deadliest diseases.
It also funded more than 95 miles of a border wall system. More than President Trump asked for in his budget.
There is zero funding for Planned Parenthood. All pro-life policies remain in place to ensure taxpayers funds aren't used to fund abortions. And it cuts off U.S. taxpayer assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops supporting terrorist activities against our ally Israel.
Finally, it's clear Congress's budget process is broken. Even though the U.S. House had earlier debated and voted on all 12 spending bills that fund the government, the Senate failed to act on even one. And as long as Senate Republicans cling to their 'supermajority' or 60 vote rule to consider bills, our nation will continue to see massive spending bills like these that we're all tired of.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.