Jan. 18 (UPI) — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday budget cuts are putting services members’ lives at stake by creating readiness problems in the military
Between those financial moves and threats against national security, Ryan said the U.S. military has passed “the breaking point.”
“Instead of upgrading our hardware, we have let our equipment age,” Ryan said during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Instead of equipping our troops for tomorrow’s fight, we have let them become woefully under-equipped.”
“In exchange for [troops’] service, we make them a sacred promise. We promise that we will give them the tools they need to do their jobs safely and effectively. And today, quite frankly, we are letting them down. We are breaking that promise. That is shameful.”
Ryan’s speech comes as a potential government shutdown looms. Lawmakers are sparring over which programs should be funded. Republicans want a considerable increase in military spending while Democrats are insisting on equal increases for defense and non-defense programs.
In his speech, Ryan accused Democratic leaders of “playing politics” with military lives by mingling a budget deal with issues such as immigration and domestic spending.
“Our military is being used as a bargaining chip for completely unrelated items,” Ryan said.
He laid out his argument for military funding with reminders of threats posed by Islamic State fighters, North Korea, Russia and Iran.
“This is not some problem we are projected to face years down the road. It is happening right now. … We know the greatest antidote to that uncertainty is the ability to depend on our armed forces to keep the peace,” Ryan said. “We cannot shy away from the threats we face. We must confront them. … We cannot shun our alliances. We must strengthen them. And we cannot leave our troops unprepared on the battlefield. We must equip them.”
President Donald Trump, on his way to the Pentagon Thursday to speak about a possible government shutdown, expressed his support of the military in budget negotiations, saying the military would “lose big” without proper funding. He also said the nation “just about never needed our military more than now … our military has to be the best by far.”
“If for any reason it shuts down the worst thing is what happens to our military,” Trump said.
Later in the day during his weekly news conference, Ryan expressed the same sentiments about military funding, saying the issue is “an urgent responsibility as our military faces a serious deterioration of its readiness and capabilities.”
“Unfortunately, Democrats don’t seem to share that urgency at all. They continue to hold military funding hostage over unrelated issues and deadlines that don’t exist,” Ryan said. “Now they are threatening to shut down the government altogether over these unrelated issues. It’s just unconscionable.”