The bipartisan budget act

Published 9:27 am Monday, February 12, 2018

This week, the House and Senate reached a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a long-term budget. While this agreement is by no means perfect, it is a huge step forward on a number of important fronts. Over the last 8 years, our national defense budget shrunk to the point that there were fears our defense capabilities had been degraded to unsafe levels, leaving our troops in harm’s way. With more of our troops being killed in training accidents than combat, half of our aircraft carriers remain unmanned and unable to fly and our Air Force is the smallest and oldest it has ever been; a much needed update to our armed forces is necessary. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 will ensure our armed forces and service members have the resources they need to keep America safe and free. As I’ve said time and time again, I will never apologize for voting for increased spending that addresses our national security and ensures the brave men and women who serve this country have every resource they need to be successful in their mission. This is one of my highest priorities in Congress as the world grows more and more dangerous, and I’m glad this agreement provides for a strong national defense.
In his comments on why it was important to support this agreement, Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis left no doubt about the stakes, stating, “America can afford survival. For too long, we have asked our military to carry on stoically with a ‘success at any cost’ attitude. 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 have a duty to remain faithful to them.” The last thing the men and women who serve need to be worried about is whether or not Congress can do our job and fund our armed forces. This budget agreement addresses these serious concerns, which is one of the main reasons I support it.
As I mentioned before, while this agreement is not perfect, past budget agreements have raised spending caps for defense and non-defense spending by the same amount, but this agreement sets an important precedent that our national security is more important, and provides $15 billion more in defense resources than non-defense resources. Further, the non-defense increases will go toward priorities important to East Tennesseans: such as combating the opioid epidemic; increasing medical research; funding community health centers; and ensuring VA hospitals damaged by the recent surge in natural disasters have the capability to rebuild in order to serve our nation’s veterans – to name a few.
Lastly, I’m proud to see that my bill repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which I introduced the day Obamacare passed the House in 2010, was included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. I have consistently pushed for repealing IPAB because I strongly believe this board of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats should not have a say in Medicare spending. This board would have resulted in health care decisions being made to meet a budget, which could have resulted in seniors being denied access to health care services. I’m proud this agreement takes another step toward restoring some of the patient-centered health care that was threatened with the passage of Obamacare.
Now that Congress has an agreement on spending for the next two years, we can continue working on more of the People’s priorities, and I’m ready to get to work.
Feel free to contact my office if we can be of assistance to you or your family.

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