Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, made the following statement on the need to include the Department of Defense's funding request in the next COVID response bill:
"As in any crisis, the American people have turned to the military to help protect the country, and the military has responded admirably. By providing additional hospital capacity and medical personnel, mobilizing PPE production, accelerating vaccine research, and protecting our troops and their families, the Department of Defense has been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 while simultaneously holding the line against terrorists abroad and competitors like Russia and China. While this virus presents a novel threat to our national security, old threats have not gone away and new ones are on the horizon.
"As our men and women in uniform have faced this crisis, the defense industrial base workforce -- from businesses large and small -- stood with them, a critical ally in this fight. Those businesses, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they represent, need support from the next relief bill as much as any other sector of the economy.
"As the Pentagon and its private-sector partners have worked together to address the pandemic crisis, the Department of Defense has had to foot the bill for an array of additional costs. Socially distanced production spaces, provision of PPE, self-quarantining, disrupted logistics have generated significant bills. These COVID-related effects made defense programs less efficient and more expensive, and DOD cannot redirect money from other crucial priorities to cover these costs. In particular, critical small businesses representing thousands of employees are at risk of going under in this economic crisis. DOD can support them through Defense Production Act authority, but it requires money to do so -- including supporting the production of PPE and vaccines. Funding additional procurement in alignment with the National Defense Strategy will help our ongoing work to rebuild the military while providing much needed support for the defense industrial base.
"All of these tasks are essential to keeping the American people safe and they are wise investments in our economy. The Department of Defense cannot afford to incur over twenty billion dollars in unfunded coronavirus impacts without damaging their hard-fought readiness gains and combat capability. It would be wrong to ask them to. What's more, ensuring the military has what it needs to respond to COVID and prepare for the next crisis will only cost 1 percent of the total federal response to COVID-19. Our defense spending is already flat this year -- far below the three to five percent real growth endorsed by the bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission. It would be short-sighted to let this current crisis further erode our ability to face the next one."