National Security

Mattis: ‘I Want Congress Back in Driver’s Seat of Budget Decisions, Not in Spectator’s Seat of Automatic Cuts’

Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Monday called on Congress to end the automatic defense budget cuts triggered by sequestration, saying in a speech in Washington, D.C. that a properly funded Department of Defense is necessary to keep America's military the best fighting force in the world.

In a speech at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting, Mattis warned that automatic spending cuts have hurt the military's ability to operate.

"We must never lose sight of the fact that we have no God-given right to victory on the battlefield," Mattis said, describing the importance of training, organization and personnel policies.

Mattis then called on Congress to address sequestration and not be passive as automatic defense spending cuts decrease America's "competitive edge" over its adversaries.

"Even as our competitive edge over our foes and adversaries decreases due to budgetary confusion in this town and the budget caps, I am among the majority in this country that believes our nation can afford survival, and I want the Congress back in the driver's seat of budget decisions, not in the spectator's seat of automatic cuts," Mattis said.

"I have great confidence in the U.S. Congress, but I have no confidence in automatic mathematical budget cuts," he added.

Pentagon leaders have repeatedly warned in recent years that sequestration's budget cuts pose a significant threat to the military's readiness.