McCain: 'We Have Got to Spend More Money on Defense'

By Susan Jones | September 11, 2017 | 5:56 AM EDT

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) appears on CNN's "State of the Union" to discuss defense spending and other issues, on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017. (Photo: Screen grab from CNN)

( - John McCain was one of 17 Senate Republicans to vote against a hurricane relief bill that included a short-term debt-limit extension as well as a continuing resolution to keep the government funded at current levels for the next three months.

McCain said the deal struck by Democrats and President Trump last week is "devastating" to national defense because it freezes defense funding at last year's level, "which is a cut of $52 billion."

"We have got to spend more money on defense," McCain told CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper on Sunday.

He noted that President Trump campaigned on a promise to rebuild the military:

We've had 185 service members have lost their lives in noncombat actions over the last three years. We've lost -- only 44 were killed in combat. And that's because our leadership, military and others, have told us that our military capabilities and readiness is declining.

You know, not often that I like to make -- to give quotes but I think that it's important to recognize that the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said that if we continue on this road, we've lost our advantage over our potential adversaries, not to mention putting the lives of these brave men and women at risk because we're not giving them the training, the equipment and the capabilities they need.

That's unconscionable. And this agreement basically freezes last year's funding in place, which is a cut of $52 billion. Now this is a president that campaigned and said, 'I'm going to rebuild the military. We're going to increase that.'

Well, that's not something that I can stand for. I believe my first obligation as chairman of the Armed Services Committee is to make sure the men and women who are serving in our military have everything they need. Under this agreement they not only don't have everything they need their lives are in greater danger. We can't do that to them.

McCain said training, readiness and maintenance are the first things to go when defense spending is pinched: "This is a product of the last eight years, not the product of this year," he said.

"So I appreciate the president's commitment, but we have got to spend more money on defense, given we're in the most turbulent world we've been in the last 70 years. I don't want to make a lecture, but at the end of World War II, we designed a new world order, the longest point of peace and prosperity in history.

"That is now unraveling, and I don't have to tell you all the places in the world where it's unraveling. This requires a stronger national defense, a stronger military. I mean, look at crisis we're facing in North Korea. This is really serious," McCain said.

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