Considerable majorities of U.S. military families view defense spending and sequestration as critical issues influencing their votes in the November presidential election, according to a new survey.
They are also much more likely than members of the general U.S. population to view these issues as very important when considering for whom they will cast their ballots for president.
Eighty-four percent of middle-class military families say that defense spending is an extremely or very important issue affecting their choice for president, compared with only 55 percent of the general population of middle-class families, according to the latest First Command Financial Behaviors Index.
Likewise, 78 percent of middle-class military families say sequestration is an extremely or very important issue influencing their decisions, compared with less than half of the general population of these families. The numbers are the same when families consider the importance of the new military retirement system on their votes.
Military spending and sequestration have been the focus of lawmakers and service chiefs in recent weeks as Congress has worked to come to an agreement to fund the government in the new fiscal year. Before leaving town last week, lawmakers passed a continuing resolution to fund federal agencies through Dec. 9.
Defense spending has been reduced annually as a result of the 2011 Budget Control Act. The Defense Department has also weathered billions of dollars in cuts as a result of sequestration, which went into effect in 2013. Meanwhile, overall commitments for U.S. forces abroad have remained high, and the services have been challenged to rebuild readiness amid reductions in manpower in budget constraints.
In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last month, all four service chiefs said that the U.S. military will not be able to defend the homeland if sequestration continues.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for an increase in military spending and an end to sequestration, despite having downplayed the impact of the sequester weeks before it took effect. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports ending the sequester for both defense and non-defense spending.