Letter to Congress: Retired Admirals and Generals Promote Balanced Investments in Federal Budget
Nearly 350 retired admirals and generals sign letter urging Congress to support both defense and non-defense discretionary programs
The following letter, which was sent to all members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, was signed by nearly 350 retired admirals and generals calling for a new budget agreement that balances investments across both defense and non-defense discretionary programs like Child Care and Development Block Grants, Head Start and Early Head Start.
February 27, 2019
Members of Congress:
We write as retired admirals and generals, and members of the national security organization Mission: Readiness, to urge you to support programs that help America’s children grow into healthy, educated, citizen-ready adults. Particularly, we respectfully request that you reevaluate spending caps mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) and provide balanced investments in both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs.
Non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs programs play a variety of roles in supporting and enhancing our national security by contributing directly to the health, education, and development of our youngest generation.
As Members of Mission: Readiness, we recognize the fact that the strength of our military – and our Nation – is dependent on the strength of our people. We are deeply concerned that 71 percent of young Americans ages 17 to 24 cannot qualify for military service because they are too poorly educated, medically or physically unfit, or have a disqualifying record of crime or drug abuse.
The implications of this recruitment crisis were underscored last year, when the Army fell short of its 2018 recruiting goal by 6,500 soldiers. Further, in 2018 the Army missed its end strength goal for the active duty component by almost 7,500 soldiers, and the Army National Guard and Army Reserve missed their end strength goals by 8,000 and 9,000 soldiers, respectively.
The shortage of qualified young people who are willing to serve will continue to erode the strength of our military, unless we address the root causes now.
NDD programs play a variety of roles in supporting and enhancing our national security by contributing directly to the health, education, and development of our youngest generation. These crucial NDD programs include:
Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG), which help low-income families afford child care. Research shows that access to quality child care has significant positive impacts on children’s social, cognitive, and physical development.
Head Start and Early Head Start, which help children from low income families access early learning opportunities and become prepared for kindergarten. Studies have found that the Head Start participants gain long-term educational benefits, including increased rates of high school graduation.
By providing balanced investments across both defense and non-defense discretionary programs, Congress will continue to ensure our national security, both now and for generations to come.
The sequestration cuts mandated by the BCA pose a direct threat to the effectiveness of these and other key NDD programs. Without a new budget agreement from Congress, NDD funding will be cut by $55 billion compared to Fiscal Year 2019. These cuts would severely undermine the ability of programs like CCDBG, Head Start and Early Head Start to serve children and put them on the path toward productive citizenship.
Last year, Congress worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass a two-year budget agreement that avoided sequestration cuts, provided key new investments for important programs, and did so in a balanced manner that strengthened both defense and NDD activities. We strongly urge you to follow this example for the coming fiscal years and avoid the drastic cuts of sequestration, while maintaining a balanced approach to setting discretionary budget levels.
Providing for the common defense is one of the most fundamental and important constitutional duties of Congress. By providing balanced investments across both defense and non-defense discretionary programs, Congress will continue to ensure our national security, both now and for generations to come.