Washington Post - By Mac Thornberry September 7 at 4:24 PM
This summer, the nation mourned the 42 service members who died in accidents related to readiness challenges across our military. The deaths of 17 sailors aboard the USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald, along with separate accidents claiming the lives of 19 Marines and six soldiers, grabbed the nation’s attention. But words of sorrow do not sufficiently honor their deaths, let alone prevent further incidents. It is essential to reverse the consequences of Washington’s funding paralysis and do what is right by those who raise their hands to serve.
The Constitution places the responsibility on Congress for setting the size of the U.S. military, ensuring sufficient resources are in place to train and equip it, and funding maintenance programs and replacing worn-out equipment. We have a moral responsibility to ensure that our people are fully prepared and fully supported. While I have no doubt that the U.S. military can defeat any adversary, our collective passivity to our worsening readiness challenge means that our enemies’ defeat will cost more lives, time and materiel...
Half-measures, such as the one negotiated by the president and Democrats this week, present a stark risk. Continuing to govern from fiscal cliff to fiscal cliff — as we have done for years now — forces the military to limp along on stopgap funding and would shortchange it over $60 billion through fiscal year 2018 compared with the bipartisan House position.
As Congress gets to work, many colleagues and I are unwilling to allow this situation to continue. Although the agenda is crowded, it is hard to remember a time when our military readiness crisis has been on such sharp display. We have a choice to continue to shirk our responsibility, repeating past mistakes and jeopardizing more lives, or to complete our work before the end of the fiscal year this month and provide the military the resources it needs.