Blue Dog Leadership Calls for Increased Defense Funding, Other Priorities to Strengthen Nation’s Defense
Jun 24, 2021
Priorities include measures to counter China, strengthen oversight of defense spending, and boost cyber capabilities
WASHINGTON—Today, Blue Dog Coalition leadership sent a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers, House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairwoman Betty McCollum, and House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Ranking Member Ken Calvert, outlining the Coalition’s main priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense Appropriations legislation. Specifically, Coalition leadership listed the following priorities to ensure a strong national defense for the United States: 1) Increase defense funding as proposed by the Biden Administration; 2) Fund measures to counter China; 3) Support watchdogs to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse; and 4) Boost cyberspace-related capabilities.
In the letter, Blue Dog leadership underscored that the Biden administration’s request of $753 billion for national defense programs, which is $12.3 billion above the Fiscal Year 2021 enacted level of $740.7 billion, is a “strong and sensible funding request.” The Coalition’s leadership made clear it would “oppose calls to authorize or appropriate funding below this level” since the United States “faces a formidable array of challenges from state and non-state actors, including from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, the Islamic State, and al Qaeda.”
The letter was signed by all members of Blue Dog Coalition leadership—Reps. Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Ed Case (HI-01), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), and Kurt Schrader (OR-05)—as well as Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security.
SEE BELOW FOR THE FULL LETTER TEXT:
Dear Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Rogers, Chairwoman McCollum, and Ranking Member Calvert:
As leadership of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is united around the principles of a strong national defense and fiscal responsibility, we write to you regarding our main priorities for the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Fiscal Year 2022 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.
Increase Defense Funding as Proposed by the Biden Administration
The Biden administration has requested $753 billion for national defense programs. This is $12.3 billion or 1.7 percent above the Fiscal Year 2021 enacted level of $740.7 billion. The $753 billion request includes $715 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Defense, which is $11.3 billion or 1.6 percent above the Fiscal Year 2021 enacted level of $703.7 billion. We believe this is a strong and sensible funding request, and we oppose calls to authorize or appropriate funding below this level. The United States faces a formidable array of challenges from state and non-state actors, including from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, the Islamic State, and al Qaeda. We strongly support the robust defense funding level included in the President’s budget request.
Fund Measures to Counter China
We agree with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that “China is our pacing threat” and that “our goal is to make sure that we have the capabilities and the operational plans and concepts to be able to offer credible deterrence to China or anybody else who would want to take on the U.S.” The Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA established the China-focused Pacific Deterrence Initiative, and authorized $2.23 billion to fund its various components. We respectfully request that Congress provide no less than $4.68 billion in Fiscal Year 2022 for the PDI, as outlined by Admiral Philip S. Davidson, the former commander of United States Indo-Pacific Command, in the report he provided to Congress pursuant to Section 1251 of the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA.
Support Watchdogs to Prevent Waste, Fraud, and Abuse
While we support strong funding for the Department of Defense, we also believe every dollar provided to the Department should be used wisely. It is important that we resource the offices working toward the goal of a clean audit opinion. Accordingly, we request that Congress provide at least level funding for both the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General and internal Department of Defense auditors, namely the Naval Audit Service, the Air Force Audit Agency, and the Army Audit Agency. We oppose the proposed cut to the Naval Audit Service.
Boost Cyberspace-Related Capabilities
Section 1752 of the Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA established the Office of the National Cyber Director to advise the President on cybersecurity, coordinate cyber policy across agencies, and oversee the implementation of the National Cyber Strategy. Given the string of damaging cyberattacks on our public and private sectors, it is impossible to overstate the importance of this newly-created Office. Therefore, we request that Congress provide robust funding for the Office so that it can fulfill its assigned missions.
Thank you for your attention to these matters. We look forward to working with you to craft a defense authorization bill and a defense appropriations bill that advance our nation’s security interests.