Senate Armed Service Committee on the Budget Control Act – 24 January 2017

A recent hearing was held by the Senate Armed Service Committee (SASC) on January 24 concerning the Fiscal Year 2018 Defense Budget and beyond. Opening statements were given by Senators John McCain and Jack Reed. Testimonies were also represented by Dakota L. Wood (The Heritage Foundation), Dr. Thomas Mahnken (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments), and Dr. Lawrence J. Korb (Center for American Progressions).

The main theme of both Senators Reed and McCain’s opening statements shared a lot of similarities. One main concern for the SASC is to repeal the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) arbitrary spending caps. Because of the Budget Control Act of 2001, the military got smaller and less capable. Senator Jack Reed stated, “The BCA has not made this country safer, and it has not resolved our fiscal challenges.” This represents just one of the hurdles that the SASC faces when constructing next year’s Defense budget.

Testimonies by both Wood and Mahnken agree that an increase in defense investment is an important first step in rebuilding the U.S. military to the size, modernity, and readiness essential for it to perform its function in protecting America and its interests. Wood stated, “it will also send a profoundly important message to the rest of the world that America is once again becoming serious about protecting itself and its interests”. Dr. Korb on the other hand, argues that before we consider adding significant funds to the 2018 Defense budget, we must first look at how the Pentagon is currently spending the large amount of funding it currently receives. One of these focus areas he mentioned were the cost overruns on its [Pentagon’s] major acquisition programs.

To read full text of opening statements and testimonies please see links below:

Senator John McCain Opening Statement

Senator Jack Reed Opening Statement

Dakota L. Wood Testimony

Dr. Thomas G. Mahnken Testimony

Dr. Lawrence J. Korb Testimony