A few days ago, in a meeting I attended at the White House, President Biden shared his view that America is a “declining superpower.” I fundamentally disagree with the President. We are not a nation in decline. Unfortunately, his recent budget proposal confirms that he really believes America has a shrinking role in the world. The President’s budget would halt the growth of our military during a crucial rebuilding effort that began under President Trump. Reversing course now would send a damaging message of weakness to our most determined adversaries.
President Biden has already proved more than willing to break the bank on liberal priorities. Recently he signed a $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill – most of which was unrelated to COVID-19 – and he is now trying to top that with a mammoth $2.3 trillion infrastructure bill. Yet when it comes to our national defense, the President is unwilling to spend necessary money. In his Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal, the President requested a meager 1.5 percent increase to defense spending. After adjusting for inflation, this would actually cut the military’s purchasing power by $7 billion, resulting in fewer resources on hand to carry out core missions. Military leaders have said they need three to five percent growth each year just to maintain our military’s current capabilities.
Our military has just achieved a remarkable comeback after years of decay and underfunding during the Obama era. Four years of sustained funding increases under President Trump did wonders to boost our troops’ readiness and shift our military’s focus toward competing with China, whose military strength has grown exponentially. Freezing our military growth would allow China to speed up its efforts to establish dominance in the Pacific, where it seeks to disrupt international commerce and threaten our allies.
China is a global menace that needs to be confronted. Domestically, the Chinese Communist Party denies freedom to its citizens and is committing genocide against an ethnic minority. On the world stage, China is an abusive power and a threat to international stability. Beijing is exploiting African nations for valuable resources, creating islands for military bases in the Pacific Ocean in violation of international law, and spreading propaganda to justify its malign activities. Just this past week, China flew 25 military jets into Taiwanese airspace in an unprecedented effort to intimidate its island neighbor. Admiral Phillip Davidson, who commands U.S. forces in the Pacific, has predicted China could invade Taiwan in the next six years. China will keep pushing ahead with its global ambitions unless it is deterred by a formidable U.S. Navy.
Last Tuesday, I participated in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee to assess President Biden’s defense spending plan. General Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. forces in Europe, confirmed the need for more Navy destroyers to confront our adversaries – including in the Arctic region, where Chinese and Russian ships dramatically outnumber U.S. vessels. He also noted that our fleet growth is not keeping pace with the Chinese Navy, which has become the world’s largest force at sea.
Congress will have the final say on defense spending in the coming months. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I will be pushing hard for greater investments to maintain our military edge and keep America’s adversaries at bay.