In his opening statement ahead of testimony in the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary James Mattis asked Congress to avoid another government shutdown and pass a real budget, warning that "no enemy in the field has done as much to harm the readiness of U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act's defense spending caps."
JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Let me be clear: As hard as the last 16 years of war have been on our military, no enemy in the field has done as much to harm the readiness of U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act's defense spending caps, worsened by operating for 10 of the last 11 years under continuing resolutions of varied and unpredictable duration.
The Budget Control Act was purposely designed to be so injurious that it would force Congress to pass necessary budgets. It was never intended to be the solution.
For too long, we have asked our military to carry on stoically with a success-at-any-cost attitude. Our troops work tirelessly to accomplish every mission, with increasingly inadequate and misaligned resources, simply because Congress has not maintained regular order.
The fact that our volunteer military has performed so well is a credit to their dedication and professionalism. We expect the men and women of our military to be faithful in their service, even when going in harm's way. We must also remain faithful to them.
Chairman, as you said in January, "If Congress does not come together to find a way to fund this strategy, Secretary Mattis must explicitly inform Congress and the American people of the consequences of failure."
The consequences of not providing a budget are clear. Even though we are protecting ongoing operations from continuing resolution disruptions, each increment of funding in support of our partners in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria requires a 15-day congressional notification. My commanders in the field write to me for help in getting timely and predictable funds for their efforts as they work to execute our strategy against the enemy in the field.
Additionally, should we stumble into a year-long continuing resolution, your military will not be able to provide pay for our troops by the end of the fiscal year; will not recruit the 15,000 Army soldiers and 4,000 Air Force airmen required to fill critical manning shortfalls; we will not maintain our ships at sea with the proper balance between operations and time in port for maintenance; we will ground aircraft due to a lack of maintenance and spare parts; we will deplete the ammunition, training and manpower required to deter war; and delay contracts for vital acquisition programs necessary to modernize the force.
Further, I cannot overstate the impact to our troops' morale from all this uncertainty.
Today, as I sit here, we are engaged in prudent planning in the Pentagon for another disruptive government shutdown.