As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) questioned Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, Jr. about the fiscal year 2017 budget proposal for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).
Chairman Rogers shared his frustration with President Obama's announcement earlier this week to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and to transfer known terrorists out of U.S. custody.
"As the President made the case that these prisoners will be subject to strong security measures while in the custody of other nations, a former Guantanamo prisoner was arrested in North Africa on terror charges," said Rogers. "The Director of National Intelligence tells us that 30% of prisoners released from the facility have reengaged in terrorism, yet the President continues to argue that releasing these prisoners will make us safer. Once again, I am perplexed by the Administration’s decision to continue to prioritize this misguided campaign promise, despite clear direction from this Congress - not to mention the implications for national security."
Last week, President Obama failed to meet a Congressional deadline to submit a strategy to combat ISIS, and with active-duty end strength set to decline further in 2017, Rogers questioned Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford about plans to address global security and threats of terrorism.
"Two years after the Russian annexation of Crimea, Russian aggression remains a threat to sovereign states in the region and a considerable influence in the Middle East," stated Rogers. "The Islamic State maintains its hold on population centers where it terrorizes innocent lives and has created an unlivable situation for countless Syrians and Iraqis. We have seen this conflict force the migration of millions and precipitate an unprecedented humanitarian and security crisis across the Middle East and Europe. Meanwhile, Iran and North Korea continue to rattle their sabers, while China exerts military strength in the Pacific."
Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford applauded the Omnibus funding deal that passed in December with Chairman Rogers' leadership, and further explained strategies for national defense.
"We have five evolving strategic challenges," stated Secretary Carter. "Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and terrorism are now driving DoD's planning and budget."
"We're building the force of the future," said Chairman Dunford, regarding U.S. Armed Forces. "Our strategic nuclear deterrent remains effective, but it's aging and requires modification, therefore, we're prioritizing investment needs for a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent."
Over the last five years, the Defense Subcommittee has passed a Defense Appropriations bill out of the House and Rogers urged both chambers of Congress to pass a FY17 federal funding bill for the sake of military troops and their families.
Click here to watch the full committee hearing for FY17 DoD funding.