At a time when our federal government is borrowing more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends, we must cut our spending to only the most essential needs. Chief among those is to “provide for the common defense” as put forth in the enumerated powers of the Constitution.
America is the greatest military might the world has ever known. But adversarial nations continue to pursue advanced missile technologies that threaten both the United States and our allies. Our best defense against such an attack is a robust and layered missile defense system.
As Congress looks to make tough choices on where to cut spending, we must fight to ensure that no matter what, our citizens are not left vulnerable to the very real threat of a missile attack.
Missile threats to our homeland did not disappear with the fall of the Soviet Union. Adversaries, including Iran and North Korea, are continuing to develop missile technologies capable of targeting the U.S. homeland and our allies. A recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency underscores the need for the United States to continue strengthening its missile defense program.
While Congress is considering a decrease in the funding necessary to upgrade and maintain our missile defense force, other countries are heavily increasing their investment in modernizing their nuclear arsenal and delivery systems. The U.S. missile defense program is only $10 billion per year out of a roughly $700 billion defense budget. Yet, many in Congress view missile defense as a place to cut from in order to grow nondefense programs.
For years, skeptics have argued against the need for and feasibility of a missile defense system. But the United States and its allies, such as Israel, have proved skeptics wrong by developing some of the finest and most capable missile defense systems in the world, such as the Aegis, Patriot, Ground-based Midcourse Defense, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense and Iron Dome.
The United States is not alone in its development of missile defense systems, as evidenced by Russia’s active program. Research, development, testing and evaluations are needed in many areas to ensure that the American missile defense system remains the best in the world.
The GMD system, which protects our homeland from missile attack, is a critical component of our defense. We have seen huge successes but have also, admittedly, faced some setbacks. Nevertheless, our Ground-Based Interceptors are the last line of defense to protect our homeland from a missile attack.
Now is not the time to reduce funding for this important program. The Obama administration has cut GMD funding by $1.6 billion since taking office nearly three years ago. Additional cuts to the missile defense budget would leave us dangerously vulnerable.
In today’s economy, where more than 14 million Americans are unemployed, defense spending plays a role in not only protecting our nation from attack but putting thousands of Americans to work.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calls the now-scheduled $500 billion in defense cuts a “doomsday mechanism” for the country that would not only eviscerate our defense capability but would add a million people to the unemployment line.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.