Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Yesterday, Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee overwhelmingly rejected Republican attempts to reinstate more than $764 million to the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) budget during mark-up of the annual defense authorization bill. By gouging the President’s budget request for missile defense activities, Democrats are undermining efforts to address gaps in America’s missile defense system, despite recent missile tests in North Korea and the intelligence community’s belief that Iran will have missiles capable of reaching the United States within the next eight years.
Ranking Republican Duncan Hunter (R-CA) offered an amendment stating that the sense of Congress is to develop and deploy a layered and robust missile defense capable of intercepting missiles in boost, midcourse, and terminal phases of flight. Committee Democrats blocked Hunter’s efforts on a procedural second degree amendment.
“I’m not sure we should be slowing down the development and fielding of certain elements of our missile defense system that could prove critical to our nation’s defense—especially in light of North Korea’s test of several short-range missiles and a longer-range Taepo-Dong-2 missile and Iran’s continued development and test of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles,” said Hunter.
“Now is not the time to further reduce funding or slow down the development and fielding of a robust missile defense system, which is critical to our nation’s defense and the protection of our deployed forces and allies. Like many on my side of the aisle, I remain concerned about the $764 million topline reduction levied on the Missile Defense Agency, especially when progress is being seen in so many of their programs,” said Rep. Terry Everett (R-AL), ranking Republican of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. “While I understand my Democrat colleagues desire to focus on near-term capabilities, we need to work together to identify the right balance between investments in near-term systems and future capabilities.”
Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) offered two amendments to restore funds to badly cut programs critical to America’s missile defense strategy. Committee Democrats unanimously opposed both. Lastly, Rep. Franks offered an amendment to fully restore the $764 million to the MDA budget, but it failed by a vote of 34-24.
Franks said, “While some in Congress remain intent on cutting missile defense, our enemies also remain intent. North Korea and Iran, among others, are intent on building faster, longer, and more sophisticated ballistic missiles. Democrats cannot say they are supportive of missile defense, and then cut out programs that are essential to entire layers of that defense. These votes showed the American people exactly where their Representatives on the Armed Services Committee truly stand on this issue.”
“I was pleased to support my colleague Congressman Trent Franks’ efforts to restore missile defense funding to the National Defense Authorization Act. As countries hostile to American interests continue to develop missile capabilities, it is crucial that the United States be prepared to protect itself. It is unfortunate Democrats on the Committee chose to stifle instead of support our missile defense program,” said U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC).
“A viable missile defense system is critical to deterring and countering developing threats to our national security,” said U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA). “I find it very troubling that the Democrat leadership cut millions of dollars from this important program, especially as rogue regimes in North Korea and Iran develop their ballistic missile capabilities. This is a short-sighted and dangerous approach that will impede our ability to protect American citizens from harm. I applaud Congressman Franks’ efforts to restore this funding and restore a greater stability to America’s defenses.”