The bipartisan budget agreement is absolutely critical for our national security, disaster recovery, and other Republican priorities. It is the result of six months of efforts to secure funding for our military, and it will allow Congress to end the cycle of governing by stop-gap measure and move on to other important agenda items. It also has meaningful budget offsets, including structural reforms to mandatory spending programs.
Here are five reasons why it is so important:
- It Rebuilds our Military: This agreement delivers on our promise to fully fund the military at the levels in this year's National Defense Authorization Act. This is the funding level that Defense Secretary James Mattis has said is needed to rebuild our military. The threats of the 21st century are grave and evolving, and yet our military’s needs have been neglected and our readiness has deteriorated. Funding for the military was not a priority under the Obama administration, and the effect on readiness has been staggering. So much so that Secretary Mattis said he was “shocked” by the poor state of U.S. combat readiness. In 2017, we lost 80 service member lives due to accidents and training incidents—nearly four times as many lives killed in combat. With better training and equipment, these deaths may have been preventable. This legislation brings our military into the 21st century and will save lives. Our service members sacrifice so much for this country—the least we can do is keep them prepared and as safe as possible. This bill meets our commitment the United States Armed Forces.
- It Provides Long-Delayed Disaster Relief Resources: Last fall, our nation experienced historic, severe natural disasters that destroyed homes and crippled entire communities. This includes the hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Texas, and the wildfires that ravaged California. The House already passed legislation providing needed resources for recovery, but it has been stuck in the Senate. This budget agreement finally advances disaster recovery and provides these states and territories with emergency appropriations so victims can rebuild.
- It Breaks Parity, with a Bigger Increase for Defense than Non-Defense Spending: For eight years under President Obama, Democrats insisted that an increase in defense spending be tied to an equal increase in non-defense spending. That means that every time we wanted to provide more funding for our military, we had to spend equally in domestic discretionary spending. This arbitrary standard contributed to our military readiness crisis. This budget agreement breaks that parity construct, with significantly less spending for non-defense purposes than for our military.
- It Directs Domestic Spending Toward Republican Priorities: While any bipartisan budget agreement requires an increase in non-defense spending, for the first time there is an agreement to direct portions of this spending toward domestic programs that Republicans support. This bipartisan agreement includes providing a down payment on infrastructure; directing spending toward the fight against opioids; continuing Republicans’ efforts to find cures by increasing funding for disease research at the National Institute of Health; and breaking down the backlog at the Veterans Administration. The budget agreement also includes important health care priorities, such as providing resources for community health centers, which are particularly important source of support for women in crisis.
5. It Includes Meaningful Budget Offsets and Repeals Parts of Obamacare: As we provide critical resources for our military, the agreement also includes reductions in spending that Republicans have long sought, including structural reform to Medicare and big cuts to Obamacare. Among other offsets, the agreement cuts spending from an Obamacare slush fund called the Prevention and Public Health Fund. In addition, the bill repeals the infamous Independent Payment Advisory Board from Obamacare, better known as IPAB. Importantly, the bill also address Medicare, by further means-testing premiums in Medicare Parts B and D for high-income seniors. This is the kind of common-sense structural reform that advances long-held Republican principles to save and strengthen Medicare for the long haul.
BONUS: It establishes a bipartisan, bicameral super committee on budget process reform. A top priority for House Republicans is fixing our broken budget process, but we have not had partners in this effort to make it a reality. This bill brings the Senate and Democrats to the table to start advancing real reforms so that we can finally get back to a functioning budget, spending, and appropriations process.