Renewed Optimism After Presidential Address

Mar 3, 2017 Issues: Defense and National Security

Last week millions of Americans tuned in to watch President Donald Trump address a joint session of Congress. It was a seminal moment for a new President and a new Congress, and one I think our country really needed. In this bitterly divided political environment, I believe Americans needed to see President Trump address Congress and understand that their government is working together. I also believe we needed to hear the president speak directly, without the filter of the news cycle, and lay out his plan for working with Congress to move the country ahead.
 
Fortunately, that’s exactly what happened. President Trump delivered what many are calling his best speech to date, offering a message of unity and confidence. A CNN/Opinion Research poll showed that nearly 70 percent of Americans who watched the speech came away more optimistic about the direction of our country.
 
Of course, many will continue to disagree with our unified Republican government on conservative policy issues, but I think Americans of all political stripes could find at least some common ground with the President’s message, especially on economic growth and looking out for working class Americans.
 
I was particularly encouraged by President Trump’s calls to properly fund our military, improve veterans’ health care, and secure our border. These are important issues in Alabama’s Second District, and I look forward to working with the Trump Administration and my colleagues in Congress to deliver results.
 
On the military funding front, we are pressing forward right away. This week the House is set to consider the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill. This legislation contains $516.1 billion in base discretionary funding and $61.8 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding for the Global War on Terrorism.
 
Our bill rejects the Obama Administration’s proposed troop level reductions and instead provides funding for an additional 1,000 active duty Army soldiers, 1,000 Army National Guard soldiers, 1,000 Army Reserve soldiers, and 1,000 active-duty Marines. The bill also fully funds a much-deserved 2.1 percent pay raise for military personnel.
 
There are a number of specific bill features that are of note to Alabama and our significant military footprint. It contains $8.2 billion for the procurement of 74 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. The Montgomery-based 187th Fighter Wing is on the short list for being assigned this next-generation fighter jet, and our Alabama congressional delegation is working together to make the case to the Air Force.
 
The bill also contains a strong budget for Army Aviation, including $187 million for 28 Lakota helicopters, which are the primary aircraft used for training at the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker.
 
Funding our nation’s military is one of Congress’ most fundamental responsibilities. As a Member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I take our responsibility to craft sound military spending plans very seriously. I am pleased the House is moving the Fiscal Year 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill this week, and I will keep you updated on our progress. You can keep up with developments in real time by following me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.