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Congressman John Fleming: Why I Voted Against The Debt Ceiling Increase

Congressman John Fleming, M.D., (LA-4), a member of the House Armed Services Committee participated in today’s hearing on “The Future of the Military Services and Consequences of Defense Sequestration.”

A panel, featuring the commanding officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, described some of the outcomes the military would face due to defense spending cuts that could occur if a congressional panel is unable to agree on a deficit reduction plan by November 23.  The panel was established as part of this past summer’s debt ceiling deal that allowed another $2.4 trillion in deficit spending.  Defense cuts that arise as a result of the committee’s agreement, or lack of agreement, would be in addition to $465 billion in defense reductions that are already on the table.  

Congressman Fleming told the military chiefs, “I get what you’re saying. $465 billion in cuts that you’re barely able to swallow, and now we’re talking about plussing that up to maybe a full trillion dollars over ten years, and that takes us from a high-risk level to a very dangerous level.  That’s precisely why I voted against the Budget Control Act, because I knew we would be here today talking about these problems.”

During his interaction with the panel, Congressman Fleming was also assured by Army Chief of Staff, General Raymond Odierno that the Army will continue to make a priority of expansion of facilities like the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. General Odierno said, “As we draw down and as we come out of Afghanistan, and other places, it’s imperative that we continue to improve our jewels of our training programs which is the National Training Center, the Joint Readiness Training Center, and CMTC in Europe, and make them the most capable and most qualified so we are able to prepares ourselves for the upcoming threats, what they might be, and so we can properly train our soldiers.  It is a very important part of our program.  It will be reviewed like we review everybody else, as you look at these budget cuts, but it is something that we set a high priority on.” 

View Congressman Fleming’s statement and questions at today’s hearing here.

Dr. John Fleming is Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is a physician and small business owner and represents the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana.

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