President Donald Trump’s debt-ceiling deal with Democrats this week was “devastating to national defense” because it raised federal spending for disaster relief but “freezes” last year’s military $52 billion funding cut from the Obama administration, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, said Sunday.
“The agreement that they made is basically devastating to national defense,” Sen. McCain, the Senate armed services committee chairman, told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “This agreement basically freezes last year’s funding in place, which is a cut of $52 billion.
“This is a president who campaigned and said ‘I’m going to rebuild the military.’ We’re going to increase that.
“That’s not something that I can stand for. My responsibility as the chairman, it’s my responsibility that our men and women have everything they need. Their lives are in danger. We can’t do that to them.”
Sen. McCain, who is fighting brain cancer amid a courageous return to the Senate this month, told host Jake Tapper, he will be introducing a Senate bill Monday to increase military funding, which will be actively debated on the floor this week.
“It’s not often I like to give quotes, but it’s important to recognize that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said if we continue on this road we’ve lost the advantage over our adversaries, not to mention putting the lives of these brave men and women at risk because we’re not giving them the training, equipment, and capabilities they need,” McCain told Tapper.
McCain placed the blame of the military reduction on former President Barack Obama’s military spending cuts, and not President Donald Trump, who is often a target of McCain’s criticisms.
“This is the product of the last eight years, not the product of this year,” McCain said. “I appreciate the president’s commitment, but we’ve got to spend more money on defense given we’re in the most turbulent world we’ve been in the last 70 years. At the end of World War II, we designed a new world order, longest point of peace and prosperity. That’s unraveling.
“I don’t have to tell you all the places in the world that is unraveling. It requires a stronger national defense, stronger military – look at crisis we’re facing in North Korea.”
McCain also pinned blame of this summer’s naval accidents on Obama-era spending cuts damaging military “readiness and training,” including the fatal one of the USS John S. McCain, which was named after Sen. McCain’s grandfather.
“Whenever you cut defense, the first that goes are the easiest to cut,: training, maintenance,” McCain said. “If you cancel a ship then you alienate a certain amount of people who are sponsors of that project. So, readiness and training are the first things that go.
“It’s gone down and down and down, and they are deploying with – talk about the Navy – with fewer ships at greater readiness. And our service chiefs have been warning us about this for several years.”