Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rob Wittman's Weekly Update

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As children, many of us were told the story of the grasshopper and the ant, and most of us probably know it well. During summer, when the days were warm and it was hard to imagine winter's famine, the grasshopper rested and played while the ant was hard at work gathering food for scarcer times. When the winter did finally come, the grasshopper found himself starving while the ant and his friends ate heartily from the store they had collected months before. It isn't difficult to see how that children's fable carries over into adult life. We all know that days of necessity are coming. The only choice we have is whether and how we prepare for them.

For years, Washington has failed to prepare for the days of necessity. We have operated under the assumption that, no matter what we do or fail to do, the resources will always be there. Last week's Bipartisan Budget Agreement Act of 2015 was just another example of that kind of thinking. The negotiations that led to the deal reflect a longstanding pattern of procedural secrecy and inefficiency that has undermined our ability to make progress for the people we represent. While this legislation takes steps to protect Social Security Disability Insurance from reductions in benefits and Medicare Part B recipients from premium hikes, those provisions could have been put in place months ago with input from all Members. Instead of taking a five-week, mid-summer break, Congress should have been developing a unified strategy and taking care of the important work left to be done. 

This deal provides $607 billion for defense spending in fiscal year 2016, falling $5 billion short of the budget request and House passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Readiness, I could not support a budget that comes short of what we've been saying for months is the "lower ragged edge" of what we need to adequately train and equip our military to ward off threats from ISIS and others. Now, we are in the unfortunate position of being forced to pass a mechanism that will match the national security policy authorized in the NDAA to that lower funding level. This deal not only represents complacency with the government's lackadaisical leadership style, it fails to adequately address our readiness shortfalls, it does not provide for proper transparency, and it creates substantive questions about how increased spending will be offset.

As the House Republican Conference moves forward under new leadership, I hope that the slate will be wiped clean and that we will move, as a body, toward regular order. American entrepreneur and former owner of the New England Patriots Victor Kiam wisely said that "procrastination is opportunity's assassin." Last-minute, short-term solutions mean that we miss the opportunity to make real progress. This pattern of stop-gap spending has to stop, and I hope that House Republicans can unify toward that end. It's time for us to get back to work and plan ahead for days of necessity.

I'm always looking for ways to make Virginia's First District better, and your input means a lot to me. Please reach out to my Washington, D.C. and district offices and let us know how we can better serve you.  


Yorktown Office
401 Main Street
Yorktown, VA 23690
Phone: (757) 874-6687
Fax: (757) 874-7164

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95 Dunn Drive
Ste. 201
Stafford, Virginia 22556
Phone: (540) 659-2734
Fax: (540) 659-2737

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Phone: (804) 443-0668
Fax: (804) 443-0671

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Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4261
Fax: (202) 225-4382



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