News Release

Hagel Faces Congress Over Defense Budget

AP reports: Hagel and Dempsey [are] to testify [today] before the House Armed Services Committee on Obama’s 2014 defense budget, a day after Obama unveiled the $526.6 billion proposal to cover the cost of buying ships, aircraft, tanks and maintaining the nation’s war fighters.

MIRIAM PEMBERTON
Miriam Pemberton is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author, with Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Progress, of the Unified Security Budget for the United States. She said today: “This year’s budget request for the Pentagon from the Obama administration fails even to stay within the limits set by current law. But the new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, seems serious about taking on his own building and initiating a long-needed defense downsizing. Places to start include misguided plans for new spending on the nuclear weapons complex and the budget-busting new fighter plane, the F-35.”

REBECCA GRIFFIN
Griffin is Peace Action West’s political director. She said today: “The president’s budget doesn’t go far enough in reshaping the Pentagon budget to reflect a 21st century security strategy or our fiscal reality. That means it falls to Congress to address out of control Pentagon spending. Without serious reform at the Pentagon, critical programs that millions of Americans depend on bear a disproportionate share of the burden.”

“Everyone from former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to weapons contractors cried wolf about the devastating impact of reductions in Pentagon spending. But when done the right way, smart Pentagon cuts won’t harm our security. Instead they make the country stronger by contributing to our economic health.

“Take the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a plane designed to fight the Soviet Union — a nation that no longer exists. It’s the most expensive weapons system the U.S. has ever built, with the expected $1.5 trillion long-term costs outstripping the annual GDP of Spain. It’s been over budget and behind schedule for years and its performance has been plagued by serious mechanical failures. In fact, the Pentagon has just grounded the entire fleet after a crack was discovered in the engines. Even defense spending booster Sen. John McCain calls the program ‘a train wreck.’”