Senator Collins Calls for Increased Funding to Cover Military Fuel Shortfalls
Washington, D.C. — At a hearing to review the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the Department of Defense, U.S. Senator Collins, Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, questioned Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on the Administration’s under-budgeted calculations for fuel costs to maintain military readiness.
Senator Collins said:
Let's assume that we do achieve our goal, of enacting the [Department of Defense] appropriations bill on time. If we use the Administration's estimate for fuel costs, which the Government Accountability Office says underestimates costs by 20 percent, General Milley, absent some relief from Congress, how would military readiness be affected in terms of the department's flying hours, steaming days, training exercises, and other activities needed to stay within the 20 percent shortfall?
Well, I think there's a direct correlation. If it's 20 percent shortfall in fuel, you're going to have 20 percent less flying hours because all of these aircraft, ships as well, and ground vehicles, tanks and mech-infantry fighting vehicles, they all rely on fuel. The Department of Defense is the biggest fuel consumer in the United States, so we would end up reducing the amount of operational tempo of our vehicle fleets, whether ground or air. And the specific number of hours, we've done the math, I'd have to get back to you, for the record, on the specific number of hours they would have. It would depend on how long and how deep the CR was. But it would have a significant impact, on flying hours, driving of miles per vehicle, and the sailing of the ships.
As the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins is pressing forward with Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) to hold subcommittee hearings on the President’s budget request. These hearings provide an important opportunity to assess our country’s needs for the coming year and will help guide Senators Collins and Murray’s efforts to write the annual government funding bills.
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