Senator Murray Discusses Importance of Investing in All-of-Government National Defense Strategy with Defense Secretary Austin


***WATCH: Senator Murray’s questioning of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III***


Washington, D.C. — Today—at a Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2025 budget request for the Department of Defense—U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke about the pressing global challenges and national security threats we face and the importance of not only ensuring the Department of Defense (DOD) has the resources it needs in the coming year to keep our country safe but ensuring Congress delivers essential resources across government to keep our country strong and secure. Senator Murray also discussed the importance of the recently passed national security supplemental that she negotiated.


In opening remarks, Senator Murray stated:


“Right now, we face a number of serious challenges across the globe. That’s why Vice Chair Collins and I pushed through the gridlock to hammer out and pass a strong national security package that sent support to our allies—especially Ukraine, humanitarian aid to civilians, and a message to our allies and adversaries alike: that America is still strong enough—and united enough—to lead the free world.


“We didn’t just pass a bill—we passed a critical test on the world stage.


“And something I don’t want anyone to forget: the bill the House eventually passed was essentially identical to the one the Senate passed more than two months earlier.


“However, the delay and inaction was not without cost. We—and our allies—lost precious time and resources during those two months that we can’t recover.


“This is similar to the costs we face each time we flirt with a government shutdown or put the government on autopilot under continuing resolutions. Those situations also come with costs, and notably, neither China nor Russia face the threat of a government shutdown or a CR.


“I’m certain all of us agree that democracies are stronger than dictatorships—but we have got to prove it, and that will take bipartisanship.


“Because as we all know: our work is not done. We must maintain America’s leadership, and make smart investments to help reduce global conflict and instability—which of course helps keep our country safe.


“That means ensuring our military remains the best in the world, supporting the men and women in uniform who sacrifice greatly to keep our country safe, having our allies’ backs, and taking an all-of-government approach to keep our country strong and secure.”


Senator Murray spoke about the tight fiscal constraints imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and reiterated that Congress must work together to provide essential resources for DOD and for vital nondefense efforts and programs alike:


“We are working with tight fiscal constraints but, Secretary Austin, it is so important we make sure not only that your Department has the resources needed to execute our national defense strategy but that your counterparts across government also have the resources they need to keep our country safe.


“The one percent increase in funding provided for FY25 under the caps is as inadequate for non-defense spending as it is for the Department of Defense. Having just worked together to write and pass 12 bipartisan bills for FY24, we know this all too clearly.


“So as members talk about how we might increase investments to better meet our defense needs, we cannot ignore our needs here at home as well.

“When it comes to additional resources above the caps which the Vice Chair and others have mentioned, I am going to insist on parity for nondefense spending—to make sure we are providing for our children and families and keeping them safe.


“After all, our safety also depends on our diplomatic corps which works around the clock to prevent and end conflict, our counterterrorism efforts and the law enforcement personnel working to identify and disrupt threats, our public health system and pandemic response efforts, the officials enforcing our sanctions to help choke off financial resources for dictators like Putin, our work countering the influence of the Chinese Communist Party and ensuring we remain on the cutting edge of research, manufacturing, and so much else.”


Senator Murray then asked Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III: “Can you talk about your work with your counterparts across government—whether that’s at State or Commerce or so many other agencies—and how their efforts assist the work you do to keep our country safe and factor into our national defense strategy?”


In response, Secretary Austin stated:


“You’ve heard a number of Secretaries say before, Chair Murray, that if we don’t fund State and others to the right level, then we’re going to need more bullets because they do great and important work to move things towards greater stability and security in all regions of the world.


“So it’s this whole-of-government effort—this interaction between departments in support of our goals and objectives that really is what causes us to be effective. So it’s important that they do get supported.”


Senator Murray also asked Secretary Austin about how the $60 billion Congress just approved to help support Ukraine in fighting Putin is being put to work. Secretary Austin responded in part:


“We, in anticipation of the potential of getting the supplemental approved, we forward positioned some things—critical things like air defense interceptors and artillery munitions so that if it were approved we would be able to rapidly move those things in support of Ukraine, and we are doing that. I talk to my counterpart in Ukraine every week. I just talked to him yesterday as a matter of fact, and checking on how that’s going, what his most critical needs are. And I think, again, this is going to be very, very helpful, but to your point, it’s hard to buy back time, but given that, I think without this help, Ukraine would have a very tough time defending against what is a superior force with the Russians.”