Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rob Wittman's Weekly Update

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Last week was a busy one here in Washington as Fiscal Year 2015 came to a close and Congress was forced to scramble to keep the government running with a short-term funding bill called a continuing resolution. Time and time again, I have said that continuing resolutions are a short-sighted and irresponsible way to fund government operations. Yet, once again, Washington has refused to commit to a budget process that allows time for proper and timely deliberation. We cannot rely on last-minute, snap decisions to address long term budget efforts that fund the critical functions of government while reducing the deficit and debt. Partisan politics has led to gridlock, and the federal deficit has continued to grow as Congress has allowed temporary funding measures to become business as usual in Washington.

Here in Virginia's First District, we are proud to be home to a significant population of military families and federal workers. These are the folks who keep America running, and they don't deserve to live with the uncertainty that the threat of government shutdown and the instability of continuing resolutions can cause. Economic growth depends on security, and by kicking the can down the road on the important work that remains to be done, we are undermining our people, our communities, and our country. Washington's repeated reliance on stopgap funding measures has created a culture of governance by crisis management, and that isn't the culture that our Founders had in mind for us. One of my top priorities is to return Washington to a regular schedule of budgeting and appropriations, and that's why, last week, I voted against legislation to temporarily fund government operations through December 11, 2015.

As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's (HASC) Subcommittee on Military Readiness, I can tell you that the uncertainty caused by Congress's refusal to do its job on time undermines our military's ability to adequately prepare for emerging threats like the ones coming from Russia and China. We now live in a global environment that is increasingly dominated by cyber communications, and our leaders in the armed services are relying on us for the resources they need to develop long-term, comprehensive strategies to defend against and respond to cyber intrusions from our enemies. During the recent Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach, hackers were able to collect personal information from 21.5 million people and fingerprints from 5.6 million of those. Cyber threats on that scale (and on any scale), because of their dynamic and fast-paced nature, can be devastating to our national interests.

This past week, the House Armed Services Committee held two open sessions about the Department of Defense's cyber security plan, and I had the opportunity to question experts in the field about the strategy and its implementation over the next several years. I believe that we should not only have a team within the military dedicated to cyber security, but that every service member should get some level of cyber security training and education. Cyber education and awareness throughout the service ranks would bolster our national security by creating an environment where service members are invited to think creatively about how to defend against and respond to cyber threats.

As I continue to advocate for a strong and capable military and fight government complacency in Washington, I will always keep your views in mind. It's so important for me to hear the voices of the people I represent, and I look forward to you reaching out to me with your thoughts and opinions.


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