Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the following statement on the Fiscal Year 2011 defense budget proposal President Obama sent to Congress today:

“As our nation fights two wars, the defense budget must provide what is needed to keep our country safe and take care of our service members and their families. I am grateful that even as we face economic challenges, defending America continues to be a priority for the Obama Administration.

“Our nation is protected by the finest military the world has ever seen, but we must support our service members and their families because the strength of the U.S. military is in our people.  This budget proposal invests in our people by providing a military pay raise, a housing allowance increase, a funding boost for family support programs, and by preventing any increases in health care fees or copayments.  The budget proposal also builds on the ongoing effort to provide the best possible care and support for our wounded warriors.

“Congress has a responsibility to ensure that every defense dollar is spent wisely, and we must continue to rein in spending where we can.  Last year, Congress passed the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act to improve accountability and reduce the cost of major weapon systems.  The House Armed Services Committee will be watching closely as the administration implements last year’s reforms and will continue to look for ways to cut wasteful spending as we review this year’s budget.  I support DOD’s efforts to improve training and increase the size of the acquisition workforce, and I expect our Committee to take further steps to improve the acquisition process as we consider recommendations from our Defense Acquisition Reform Panel in the coming weeks. 

“Along with the budget proposal, the Secretary of Defense also sent the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) to Congress.  The QDR is an essential planning document, laying out the strategic assumptions that guide our defense decision making. The House Armed Services Committee will begin its study of the new QDR with a hearing on Thursday, but the Committee also looks forward to the analysis of the Independent Panel on the QDR, which must report to Congress by July 2010.

“On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee will receive testimony on the defense budget proposal from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.  In the weeks ahead, my colleagues and I will carefully consider these proposals and look forward to working with the administration as we prepare the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act.”