The leader of the nation's largest wartime veterans organization expressed gratitude today after the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that seeks to protect the Department of Defense from massive budget cuts as Washington struggles to find answers to the federal deficit crisis.
"This is a measure that echoes The American Legion's firm belief that a strong and properly funded military is vital to our nation's well being," American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong said in response to the May 10 House vote on the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act (H.R. 5652). The measure passed by a 218-199 vote.
"It is heartening to know that the men and women of the House, by virtue of their action, are truly concerned about the negative, possibly disastrous, effects that massive, automatic cuts in our nation's defense funding would have on our security," Wong said. "If history teaches us anything, it is that a nation unprepared for emerging threats, such as we face today, will ultimately pay a higher price in blood and treasure. House members, by and large, appear to have heeded this lesson. The act is excellent in principle and a good and necessary argument in the vital debate over our military's future."
The measure would provide protections for the DoD budget in fiscal 2013, the first year of automatic cutbacks due to be imposed in order to reduce the federal deficit.
Throughout its 93-year history, The American Legion has steadfastly supported a strong national defense. In a 500-word resolution originally adopted last fall and reiterated recently, The American Legion argued, in part, that "...a strong, adequately funded American military is essential for global peace and prosperity in the 21st century... leadership within the Department of Defense (DoD) has continually warned that significant reductions in defense spending pose serious risks to the future security of the United States (and) further cuts to the DOD budget will do irreversible and irreparable harm to the military capability of the United States to defend the nation."
The resolution concludes, "that The American Legion demand Congress and the Administration cease all efforts to reduce the defense budget from its current level."
The Legion's stand against undue cuts in defense spending was recognized by Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, in a statement following the vote. "House members... are joined by a broad coalition of veterans organizations who believe it is critical that we not jeopardize support for our troops and their families," he said. "They also know it is critical for those who take an oath to defend America (that they receive) every advantage possible and every tool available to accomplish that sacred mission."
The Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act will now be considered by the U.S. Senate, where it is subject to debate and revision before a vote.
With a membership of 2.4 million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
Contacts: Craig Roberts, 202-263-2982/202-406-0887 or Marty Callaghan, 202-263-5758/202-515-8644. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Wong is available at www.legion.org .