Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has indicated that he will bring the Defense Authorization bill to the floor next week. The bill takes small but important steps toward a 21 century defense strategy: repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and eliminating wasteful defense programs.
An intense discussion is underway between the Administration and Congress about how Pentagon spending fits within the context of a recovering economy, tightening government spending due to budget deficits, and the development of a 21st century defense strategy. With the Defense Authorization bill out of the House and being considered by the Senate, this conversation will intensify in the weeks and months ahead. In particular, there is likely to be a vigorous discussion over the costly alternative engine for the F-35, which the administration had targeted for elimination, but crept back in House legislation. As the debate unfolds, Congress would do well to remember the strong, bi-partisan support among defense experts and its own Members for reforming military spending. This consensus will take center-stage tomorrow, with the release of a bi-partisan report from the Sustainable Defense Task Force, formed by House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).
In a letter to Congress, President Obama reiterated his warning that he will veto the 2010 defense budget if money for the F-22 fighter is included. Obama and Secretary Gates are finally attempting to eliminate wasteful Cold War-era weapons that not only do nothing to enhance our security.
Today President Obama spoke at the National Archives where, surrounded by the documents that contain the principles that founded America, he confirmed the need for America to return to these principles and values by closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
In a tremendous departure from Rumsfeld, Secretary Gates’ first priority has been to ensure that the troops on the ground get all the equipment and resources they need to do their jobs. Through his focus on the immediate challenges of the current wars, Gates hopes to rebalance the military, better positioning it to address both the conventional and irregular threats of the 21st century.