Ander Crenshaw: Congress Will Have Its Say on Obama's Defense Budget Proposal

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: February 26, 2014 3:55 AM
Ander Crenshaw and Barack Obama

Ander Crenshaw and Barack Obama

A Florida congressman who holds a major seat at the table on defense spending offered his first thoughts on the Obama administration’s 2015 defense budget on Tuesday.

From his perch on the U.S. House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., weighed in on the budget proposal Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled on Monday. Crenshaw said he expected the proposal to be studied closely by Congress and even changed during the legislative process.

“Because the administration’s defense budget has not been officially introduced to Congress, it’s too early to comment on which proposals may or may not be rejected,” Crenshaw said on Tuesday morning. “My commitment to our national security at home and around the globe remains unwavering and steadfast.”

Crenshaw added that he and his congressional colleagues would shape the final defense budget.

“Working together with my colleagues on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, we will review the fine print, ask questions and take testimony at hearings, and analyze the details with particular attention focused on the proposal’s impact to our national security,” Crenshaw said. “As the process moves forward on Capitol Hill, the subcommittee will write its fiscal year 2015 Defense Appropriations Bill, which I can confidently predict will not be a direct reflection of Defense Secretary Hagel’s initial request.”

Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with the media on Monday to highlight the 2015 budget which eliminates the A10 aircraft, a staple of the American military since the 1970s, and would reduce the Army to 440,000-450,000 soldiers, its lowest level since before World War II. Hagel’s proposal, which has the backing of the Joint Chiefs, meets the $496 billion defense cap included in the budget crafted by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and signed by President Barack Obama.

White House spokesman Jay Carney talked with the media about the 2015 defense budget on Monday afternoon. Carney praised Hagel’s and Dempsey’s efforts.

“We appreciate the thoughtful approach they’ve taken that will reposition the military after the longest conflict in our nation’s history, focusing on the strategic challenges and opportunities ahead,” Carney said. “For the first time, the Defense Department’s submission will now specifically show what DOD must do if Congress cannot reach additional compromise on deficit spending, and sequestration-level cuts return in fiscal year 2016 and beyond. The Pentagon also worked with the White House on a five-year plan that comes in above sequestration but below the president’s submission last year. This plan is responsible, it’s realistic, and it supports the president’s defense strategy.”

Carney noted that Obama still had to make a decision whether to accept Hagel’s and Dempsey’s proposal. “These are the decisions that they’re recommending to the president as part of his fiscal year 2015 budget and beyond,” Carney said. “It is our view that the recommendations fit and represent a responsible, realistic approach to supporting the president’s defense strategy."

With America winding down its military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House agreed with Hagel regarding the need for a smaller Army. 

“The president, when he took office, became commander in chief at a time when we were still fighting two wars -- one in Iraq and one if Afghanistan. And he pledged during his campaign that he would end both, and he has done that in Iraq and he is doing that in Afghanistan,” Carney said. “moving away from the permanent war footing that we experienced in the wake of the Sept. 11th attacks. Obviously, that doesn’t lessen the fact that we have to maintain extreme vigilance -- and we do -- when it comes to the threats against our nation. And we have to deploy a strategy that is responsive to those threats and anticipates the kinds of conflicts that we are most likely to see in the future.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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