Durbin Questions Secretary Of Defense And Chairman Of Joint Chiefs Of Staff At Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today, at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing about the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Budget Request, questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley. Durbin began his questioning asking about the importance of keeping our military nonpartisan. 

“Two of the pillars of our national defense are civilian control of the military and our ambition, goal, or demand that those who serve in the military be nonpartisan and above politics. America is bitterly divided on political questions. What are you doing to make certain that our military is not infected with this partisanship?” Durbin asked. 

Austin and Milley answered by stating they take this issue very seriously and that there is no place for politics in the military.

Durbin then asked what the Department of Defense is doing to counter cybersecurity threats.

“It wasn’t a hypersonic aircraft, or a missile, or a stealthy group of saboteurs who closed down the Colonial oil pipeline and really disrupted the American economy. And other vulnerabilities which we are obviously aware of are in the area of cybersecurity. What is our military doing to compliment any other agency efforts in that regard?”  Durbin asked. 

Austin and Milley answered by stating DOD will remain aggressive in defensive and offensive measures to defend cybersecurity in the United States, and that they work with other agencies of government to address threats to the homeland. Milley said that while the U.S. has the most significant cyber capabilities in the world, the U.S. remains vulnerable and DOD will continue to build its capabilities in the cyber domain.

Durbin finished his questioning by asking about DOD’s proposed $750 billion budget and whether there are sources of waste in military spending.

“Someone may look at our $750 budget for our national defense and question whether we are wasting any money…my guess is we are even with the best of efforts on our part…what would you identify as the potential largest sources of waste in federal military spending at this point?”  Durbin asked.

Austin noted the need to divest from capabilities that are not relevant in the future in order to invest in the capabilities the Department will need.  Durbin responded by saying he thinks the military procurement process is in need of reform.  Over the years, Durbin has led efforts to pursue acquisition accountability within the Department of Defense.   

Video of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks from the hearing is available here for TV Stations.