As Heritage kicks off Protect America Month, we headed to Capitol Hill to speak with several members of the House’s freshmen class about the importance of funding defense. The video features short interviews with three freshmen: Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC).
Rep. Scott, one of two freshmen Republicans among the House leadership, said that he was confident that his class was well-equipped to make the tough choices needed in Washington in a targeted and responsible way. Speaking of his class, Scott said, “We’ve come out of the real world. We are probably more familiar with what it means to live there than anyone else in Congress.”
Kinzinger, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, was unequivocal that as Congress works to reduce waste throughout government, the Pentagon should not be spared. “Defense spending needs to be on the table when it comes to finding areas of waste and inefficiency.”
But he was also clear that any cuts must be made strategically. “The problem is,” he explained, “sometimes [cuts are used] as a code for really hamstringing ourselves for future operations. One of the difficult things with defense spending is you’re almost chasing your own tail. So, if we make defense investments today, we are not going to realize those gains for three or four years, just like if we make cuts today, we may not realize for three of four years what that’s actually done to our armed forces.”
Congresswoman Hartzler, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, agreed. Earlier this year, she sent a letter signed by several colleagues to House leadership making that very point. “While we look for ways to reduce runaway federal spending, we must remember that one of our main directives as representatives of the people is to ‘provide for a common defense,’” she said at that time. “I support efforts to stop any wasteful spending at the Defense Department, but believe any efficiencies should be reinvested in our fighting men and women.”