Roby Fights against Potential Defense Cuts
U.S. Representative Martha Roby, Member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), took part in a committee hearing on the future of national defense and what additional defense cuts could mean to military. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, testified in front of today’s full committee hearing.
Sec. Panetta and Joint Chiefs Dempsey responded to Rep. Roby’s question about the potential damage additional defense cuts would pose to military personnel and military families. As a strong supporter of service men and women, Rep. Roby cited the risks to defense if the Joint Select Committee is unable to produce the necessary spending cuts.
The Joint Select Committee, created under the Budget Control Act of 2011, is made up of six Democrats and six Republicans. Its Members are charged with issuing a formal recommendation to Congress on how to reduce the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.
Below is the complete text of Rep. Roby’s questions to Defense Sec. Panetta and Joint Chiefs Dempsey, along with their answers.
Rep. Roby: “I want to touch on something more on the personnel side as it relates to our troops. We’ve talked about strategic planning and certainly, that is very important as we move forward with these cuts. But we’ve got to talk about the morale of the men and women who are currently serving our country here and abroad, and what this whole discussion is doing to them as they move forward in their days and nights away from their families – and really what that looks like.
“I had the opportunity several months ago to sit down with some soldiers at Ft. Rucker, Alabama, and talk to them about what we can do to help support them. This one soldier looked at his pregnant wife sitting at his side, and he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, ‘Mrs. Roby, don’t worry about me, just take care of her’…...I’ve said many times that this Joint Committee, in many ways, is the microcosm of the many problems that we have in Congress. And as we move toward this deadline date, it’s that soldier and his wife and his family that are the real victim in this.
“Time and time and time again, over the course of my short time here Congress, our military families have been the ones that have been the insurance policy against political debate here in Washington….. And when you have a soldier serving overseas whose spouse is at home having to worry about whether or not that paycheck is going to come to put groceries on the table or to make the car payment or the house payment – you, General said that no matter how awesome our technology is as moving forward as a progressive military, that our men and women in uniform are what make this military great. So, I just wanted to give you an opportunity to both respond to that [personnel] aspect of what we’re looking at down the road.
Sec. Panetta: “Congresswoman, I thank you for that question. Our men and women are out there putting their lives on the line in order to defend our democracy.
“I think one of the great national security threats is the dysfunctionality of the Congress and its inability to confront the issues we face now. And I think that your concern is this committee that has been established might fail to provide the leadership that it has been given, or the responsibility that it has been given, to be able to come up with - in a responsible way - an additional deficit reduction. And that concerns me as well.
“I have to share with you, I served in this House for 16 years. During that 16 years, we faced a lot of great threats, a lot of problems. But, the leadership was there on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, to work together to try to find solutions to these issues, not to walk away from them. And, I think what is very important for the Super Committee, or all Members of Congress, is to take the time to think about the sacrifice that those men and women go through. To put their lives on the line, in order to be able to defend this country. And if members of Congress would be willing to engage in the same kind of sacrifice, then I think they will have earned the right to represent those constituents in the Congress.”
Gen. Dempsey: “….. The family, the soldier, the veterans, the wounded warriors, Gold Star families, are always the first issue that we discuss. And if we only ended up with one dollar at the end of this, it will go to a family.”