Senator David Perdue: The Budget Is The Number One Concern Here

“The threats we have today are more dangerous than any time in my lifetime.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Secretary Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, and General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force about how budget constraints are hurting U.S. Air Force readiness.

Click here to watch the exchange or click on the image below.


Senator Perdue: The budget is the number one concern here. I’m concerned that we’re not funding you at the level to where you can meet the missions you need to meet to protect our country and fulfill the missions that the General laid out earlier. Today we’re in a different world than we were just 10 years ago. China is spending equivalently about $826 billion [when adjusted for purchasing power parity]. We’re spending about $600 billion in that budget. The Air Force gets a little more than 20% of that budget. The threats we have today are more dangerous than any time in my lifetime. I’m concerned we’re putting arbitrary restraints on you guys and we haven’t had a bottom-up look at this since 2011 when Secretary Gates did a five-year analysis. For fiscal year 2016, we’re spending $100 billion less than what he thought we’d need, adjusted for inflation. In 2016, we spent roughly 3% of our GDP on our military. That’s 100 basis points less than our 30-year average. That’s about $200 billion dollars less. We can triangulate around this $200 billion number many different ways. If we don’t remove the Budget Control Act limits, what will that mean to the Air Force this year, and what will that mean to the Air Force over the next five years?

Secretary Wilson: If the Budget Control Act limit isn’t fixed—if we have to go to a sequester—that will be a $15 billion cut.

Senator Perdue: And what will that mean to end-strength? Readiness? Capacity?

Secretary Wilson: That would mean we would go through pretty much what we did when we had a sequester in the 2013 timeframe. We’d have to cut flying hours.

Senator Perdue: But we’re only flying about 150 flying hours right now per pilot, correct?

Secretary Wilson: Yes. It’s devastating.

Senator Perdue: That’s devastating. If that were to happen, can you fulfill the mission that was laid out so articulately by the General that is the mission of the Air Force today?

Secretary Wilson: Senator, we’re too small for what the nation expects of us now. 

Senator Perdue: Thank you, that was the answer I was looking for.

View Senator Perdue’s full remarks in the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the posture of the U.S. Air Force here.


Senator Perdue is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and is serving his first term in the United States Senate, where he represents Georgia on the Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Agriculture Committees.