It’s difficult to run any business or any organization month to month, unsure if you will have the resources in the coming weeks to keep projects moving and employees paid. One organization we cannot let operate this way is the U.S. military. It would be a shameful dereliction of duty, as one of our most important responsibilities as elected leaders is to ensure the safety and security of the American people.
However, Senate Democrats are forcing our military service members and their families to wait for critical resources by continuing to hold up military funding, with real implications for our national defense and Colorado military communities. After filibustering defense funds in September, Democrats refused to let the Senate move forward on military spending yet again last week. Their political games and obstruction have real consequences for our national security and here at home in Colorado.
Colorado is proud to play a strong role in our national defense, and many Coloradans will feel this delay in their pocketbooks and their neighborhoods. More than 40,000 Coloradans who serve in the U.S. military would receive the largest pay raise in a decade, if only Senate Democrats would allow us to move forward.
The Centennial State’s six military bases and critical military commands such as the newly formed U.S. Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base rely on this vital funding, and face an uncertain future because of Washington gridlock.
Altogether, the Senate defense appropriations bill that Democrats are stalling from moving forward contains roughly $344 million to support military priorities important to Colorado. For the first time, we secured $75 million to fund the Defense Community Infrastructure Program, which will be used to fund roads, bridges, energy infrastructure projects, schools, and more in military base communities.
The U.S. Space Command and U.S. Space Force would receive full funding, to ensure America remains a global leader in space and Colorado service members can continue to support our military space operations.
This inaction will certainly leave our country less secure and more vulnerable, as Senate Democrats delay vital funds for national cybersecurity efforts at Cheyenne Mountain and programs like the Air Force’s CyberWorx, a partnership that pairs service members with the private sector to solve complex cyber problems in the U.S.
Democrat obstruction in the Senate makes a short-term continuing resolution more likely to keep the military funded for a few months. Unfortunately, our military has been subjected to short-term continuing resolutions, with devastating impacts. Last year, members of Congress were outraged at the poor housing conditions at our military installations nationwide, yet failure to approve appropriations would prevent the necessary work to take care of our nation’s defenders and their families. According to a recent report released by the Army, a short-term continuing resolution would delay repairing 269 Army family housing units, 4,400 new family and soldier dwellings, and cause our troops to receive almost $600 million less in compensation and benefits.
Additionally, major training exercises and events, hiring and recruitment efforts, and contract negotiations would be negatively impacted as well. Millions of taxpayer dollars will be wasted if Washington is unable to provide for our men and women of the military.
If Senate Democrats have policy disagreements with defense spending, they should debate them. If they have ideas on changing the bill, they should offer them for a vote. But the irresponsible, shameful thing, the one thing we cannot do, is continue to hold up vital military resources that impact our national security and the lives of Colorado military families.
Colorado’s service members exemplify the best of our nation, and they deserve better from Washington.
Cory Gardner has served as United States senator for Colorado since 2015.