Former Vice President Dick Cheney is credited with helping to muscle through a huge hike in Defense Department spending in order to facilitate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That went so well that Republican leaders now are turning to another Cheney to help them sell a new era of Pentagon funding increases.
Pulling from the GOP playbook of 2001, leaders tapped freshman lawmaker Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Dick Cheney’s daughter, to introduce the $578 billion Department of Defense appropriations bill, which when combined with other extra funds locks in a $10 billion increase over current spending this year.
Cheney, who won a coveted spot on the House Rules Committee, was chosen to start floor debate on the huge bill, which she praised for beginning to address the backlog of equipment needs and readiness issues. She cited the actions of North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia—who she accused of “openly threatening the use of nuclear weapons”—as necessitating a new build up in defense assets and training.
Cheney said the bill developed by the House Appropriations Committee chaired by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) is only the start of what’s necessary to address what she said was the Obama administration’s neglect of the military.
Also expected to land soon on Capitol Hill soon is President Donald Trump’s supplemental spending bill seeking $30 billion more for the Pentagon and a budget blueprint for next year that could ramp up defense spending by another $54 billion.
“Then we must repeal the Budget Control Act and end sequestration,” Cheney said, referring to the budget framework Congress and the Obama administration put in place to control both defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
“We must return to this standard budgeting process,” Cheney said. “In describing the effects of sequestration several years ago, our current Defense secretary put it this way: ‘No foe in the field can wreak such havoc on our security as mindless sequestration is achieving today.’ We must end this practice with all speed.”
(Cheney family, from left to right: Dick, Lynne, Mary, Liz)
Getting little attention on the floor, however, was the fact that Congress and the last administration for the most part maintained the Bush-Cheney era military increases.
The $578 billion total price tag of the fiscal year 2017 Defense bill compares to the $317 billion version the House passed for FY 2002. With the Trump supplemental and FY 2018 budget, the level of Pentagon funds is likely to represent a more than doubling of what Congress provided for the military 15 years ago.
“In the aftermath of 9/11, it was George Bush and Dick Cheney who kept us safe,” the freshman lawmaker told lawmakers.
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