Summary: Today, alongside House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Speaker Ryan discussed how the funding bill will re-establish America’s military as the “greatest fighting force in the world.”
“I want to start by thanking you, Chairman Thornberry, for joining me today. But also for your leadership on this issue. No one knows the issues surrounding our military and the needs better than Mac Thornberry. He knows what’s at stake in this funding bill.
“As Secretary Mattis has discussed it—he’s come here so many times with various hearings and testimony—the fundamental question that comes down in this bill is whether we’re going to preserve the primacy of the American military in the 21st century. That’s really what’s going on right here.
“We have the greatest fighting force in the world, but we have asked them to do so much more with so much less for so long. Under the last administration, keeping a modern military force was simply not a priority, and the result has been a staggering readiness crisis that has cost us American lives. Today we begin to reverse that damage.
“Yes, this bill is critical for many, many other reasons. This bill starts construction on the wall. It turns the Gateway decision over to the Trump administration. It funds our war on opioids. It invests in infrastructure. It funds school safety and mental health. But what this bill is ultimately about—what we fought for for so long—is finally giving our military the tools and the resources it needs to do the job.
“Just last week—I mean, your networks covered this. Just last week, we lost two naval aviators—F-18 pilots—off of Key West because of a training accident. We lost seven service members in a helicopter crash in Western Iraq. Nine people last week alone because of equipment. We continue to lose more American personnel to accidents and training incidents than we do to enemy fire. That is just unacceptable. It comes back to resources and training.
“That’s why this bill—that’s why this bill is so important. We provide the biggest increase in military funding in 15 years. We provide the biggest pay raise for our troops in eight years. I’ve got buddies who have done six, seven, eight tours in combat who leave their families home every time. One of my buddies from Janesville is over in Afghanistan right now. I think these guys deserve—these men and women in harm’s way deserve our support. They deserve the best equipment. They deserve the best training. They deserve the best resources. And they deserve a pay raise. And that’s what we’re getting them.
“We’re boosting resources for training, for equipment, for maintenance, for base operations. This means new naval ships, new fighters, new apache and black hawk helicopters. It means a stronger missile defense system. What all this all adds up to is that we are rebuilding the American military and creating a 21st century fighting force.
“The threat of American military decline is now coming to an end. That is a promise that we made, along with this president, to the American people. And it is a promise that we are keeping today, and we’re pleased to do so.”