Mattis addresses White House reporters about budget uncertainty

US Russia comply with nuclear arms deal limits

"With it, we can restore the competitive advantage or begin down the trail of restoring the competitive advantage that has been eroded", he said.

"America can afford survival", Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, told reporters at the White House.

Mattis emphasized the importance of the USA military investing in new technological advances, noting that "we can not expect success fighting tomorrow's conflicts with yesterday's weapons and equipment".

Mattis has routinely complained about Congress' failure to pass a budget for the fiscal year that began last October 1, and the dangers of repeated temporary funding measures that last only weeks and make future planning impossible. Contracts for modernizing the force through acquisition programs would also be delayed.

Mattis was on Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the Trump administration's recently released National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review. Such investment, Mattis argued, is necessary to deter Russia, China, North Korea or Iran from miscalculating America's military strength and starting a fight.

His comments came the same day that the House was expected to pass an appropriations bill for the Defense Department for the rest of the fiscal year, which included about $700 billion total spending. "I would tell you, additionally, that without it we will be put into the position where the strategies would have to be changed and we would have to accept greater risk".

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The votes on the new short-term funding proposal are just weeks after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement January 19, kicking off a three-day partial government shutdown.

Mattis said another such shutdown would have "terrible ramifications" for the military.

Smith added the United States can not continue to operate on "wasteful continuing resolutions" and pushed lawmakers to find a way to eliminate sequestration and the mandatory budget caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. He said the Armed Services deserve the best training and resources that the US has to offer, and anything less is morally wrong.

"We're going to give up on diplomacy and focus on having as many weapons as is humanly possible to make sure that they're deterred".

The U.S. military has been operating under debilitating continuing resolutions for more than 1,000 days during the last decade, he said, noting that during last week's State of Union address, President Donald J. Trump said, "Weakness is the surest path to conflict". "All of those things are important", Smith said, calling Mattis" admonishment "patently absurd and insulting".

"I always bristle a little bit when I hear, "How can we hold defense hostage to domestic local priorities, ' as if those domestic local priorities were some kind of luxury that we just engage in for fun and enjoyment and aren't really important".

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