Long before President Trump was even sworn into office, he made a commitment to provide the men and women of our armed forces with the tools and resources they need to do their job and do it well. Unlike President Obama and his administration, this president and this Congress are following through on a promise made to servicemen and women across the country. President Trump is restoring meaning to the memorable phrase of former President Ronald Reagan: “Peace through strength.”
Last week, the House of Representatives passed the first package of appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19), which begins in October 2018. For the first time since FY07, Congress will send multiple appropriations bills to the president’s desk before the end of the fiscal year. This is the return to “regular order” which Americans have wanted to see from their Congress for years. Most importantly, this is the first time in more than 10 years that the Department of Defense will start the fiscal year with a full operating budget, rather than under a continuing resolution.
In this fiscal year’s defense appropriations bill, Congress increased base funding for our military by $17.1 billion. The bill also delivers a 2.6 percent pay raise—the largest in nine years—to more than 1.3 million active-duty troops and over 815,000 Guard and Reserve troops. The Department of Veterans Affairs is funded at 4.8 percent above last year’s level and new funding for VA medical care will allow for 7 million patients to be treated in FY19.
When General Mattis testified in front of the House Armed Services Committee as the Secretary of Defense, he told Congress that “no enemy in the field has done as much to harm the readiness of U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act's defense spending caps, worsened by operating for 10 of the last 11 years under continuing resolutions of varied and unpredictable duration.”
Trump has made it a priority to ensure our military is well-funded. Like several other promises he made to the American people, this is yet another promise kept. Congress must continue to give our military the funding it needs and deserves to be successful. With 1 percent of our country’s population defending 100 percent of our freedoms, we can’t afford not to.