National Security

Budget Debates Could Cripple Future US Military Action

Ford Williams/Courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

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A stop-gap budget plan that maintains current levels of military spending could limit President Donald Trump’s ability to carry out more strikes against Syria, according to top congressional leaders.

The budget issue is receiving more attention following U.S. missile attacks on a Syrian airfield Thursday. Any future strikes would be difficult to conduct if Congress fails to pass a defense spending bill and instead opts for a continuing resolution to fund the government past April 28.

“I think a [continuing resolution] would significantly constrain our military options,” Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the highest ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said last week.

The U.S. launched 59 Tomahawk missiles, each costing nearly $1 million, during the strike. The airfield was likely used by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to launch a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians early last week. (RELATED: Each Missile That Blasted Assad’s Base Costs About $1 Million)

Democrats opposed to military action in Syria could hamstring budget negotiations leading into the final push to pass a defense spending bill separate from the rest of the government’s funding.

Avoiding a government shutdown is a top priority for lawmakers.

“There’s not going to be a shutdown,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said on Fox News Sunday. Cornyn said he was “confident that we’ll come up with something that everybody can live with” when asked whether Republicans would shut down the government to ensure an increase in defense spending.

Other Republicans who favor increasing military action against Syria are adamant that increasing military spending is critical to national security.

“If [there is] any indication of any other chemical weapons, I think we should take out all the rest of the airfields and their air force,” Florida Republican Sen. Bill Nelson said in a tweet.

“A continuing resolution is a death blow to military readiness,” South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday before the strikes on Syria’s airfield. “Every military commander said it would throw our people into chaos.”

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