Weekly Columns

Arkansas has a proud history of supporting our military. From the brave men and women who serve to the companies in our state that contribute to our nation’s defense, as well as the military installations that are part of our communities, Arkansas will continue to play a vital role in our national security.

In December, Congress approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which included modernizing the C-130 aircraft fleet. Little Rock Air Force Base (LRAFB) is home to the C-130 training unit and this modernization ensures the mission at LRAFB will continue to support our defense.

Passage of NDAA is vital to ensuring that our men and women in uniform have the tools they need to protect our national security. That’s only a first step. Congress must also do a better job of deciding how taxpayer dollars are spent so our military leaders can plan for the future. This begins with returning to regular order and passing individual appropriations bills.

For eight years, Congress has funded the government by passing continuing resolutions instead of approving the 12 appropriations bills. This eliminates our ability to rein in spending because it maintains current funding levels for inefficient programs. This chronic budget uncertainty makes it difficult on military planning and purchases. 

In recent days, we’ve seen news reports of billions of dollars in wasteful spending by the Pentagon. The ongoing funding failures and the impact of using continuing resolutions as a regular part of the appropriations process contributes to the misuse of taxpayer dollars.

As a leader of the Senate Air Force Caucus, I recently met with General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He discussed the trouble continuing resolutions create for our military’s preparation efforts. Enduring budget uncertainties makes it difficult for the military to plan and inevitably leads to inefficient spending. 

I am concerned about the adverse impact this has on military readiness. The most basic responsibility of Congress is to determine how we spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars. This is a responsibility that my colleagues and I on the Senate Appropriations Committee take seriously.

Debating and passing these annual bills provides accountability. It’s an important part of setting priorities, making choices and reducing waste. This year the committee passed all of the appropriations bills. Unfortunately Senate Democrats prevented my colleagues and me from considering most of these bills on the Senate floor. 

The recent trend of continuing resolutions must stop. Approving appropriations bills would return the Senate to regular order and provide a framework for spending so the American people can see where their hard-earned money is going. I look forward to hitting the ground with my appropriations committee colleagues next Congress to accomplish this task.