Miss. Senator Warns Budget “Brinksmanship and Uncertainty” Would Damage National Defense

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today attended a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Mark Esper to be Secretary of Defense.

“It is obvious from listening to both sides of the aisle, from my colleagues Senator Kaine and Chairman Inhofe, that … both of them think you are an all-star, and I tend to agree with them,” Wicker said. “And you’re going to need to be an all-star.”

In his questions to Dr. Esper, Wicker highlighted the gap between the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act that must be resolved before the start of the next fiscal year.

“We need a budget number this month. If we get to September 15, we start having brinksmanship and uncertainty about what we are going to do about this budget number. That becomes a problem,” Wicker said.

Wicker has warned repeatedly that a failure by Congress to act would either shut down the government or result in a continuing resolution (CR) that would wreak havoc on the military and its planned modernization efforts.

“I would say to my colleagues … if the House and Senate cannot in the next few days work out the difference between 2.3 percent in our versions and agree on a two year budget caps number, then shame on us,” Wicker said.

Dr. Esper agreed with Wicker’s assessment.

“Every day that a CR continues is one less day that we can invest in future capabilities and future  technologies,” Esper said.

In his final question to Esper, Wicker asked, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how important is it that we get this budget number?”

“Eleven,” Esper answered.

Download broadcast quality video of Senator Wicker’s questions to Dr. Mark Esper here.