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McCaskill Calls On Congress To Get Serious About Military Funding

Frank Morris
KCUR 89.3

Military installations in Missouri face budget uncertainty, according to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.  McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who sits on the Armed Services Committee, has been touring bases in across the state this week. She talked with people who maintain B-2 stealth bombers at Whiteman Air Force Base, before making her way to the Honeywell plant in Kansas City, where parts for nuclear weapons are produced. 

She says she’s hearing that uncertainty about the military budget is making it harder to plan ahead.

“And they’ve been stressed," says McCaskill, speaking in the lobby of Honeywell’s National Security Campus. “Make no mistake, the games that have been played with the budget have been very difficult for all of these facilities to deal with.”

McCaskill says she wants to ease the military funding caps imposed five years ago, and to stop making planned purchases (like buying fighter jets) using the open-ended budget for Overseas Contingency Operations, or the war budget. She says she’d prefer a more aboveboard defense funding process.

“We want to fight ISIS, well we ought to get our act together and fund the fight against ISIS in a way that makes sense,” McCaskill says.

McCaskill also wants to see more spending for the FBI and office of Homeland Security to counter domestic terrorism.

She says the recent hacks into two state’s election websites raise serious questions about vulnerabilities in the system.

The FBI reports that hackers hit at least two states, Illinois and Arizona, accessing hundreds of thousands of voter records. McCaskill says it’s unclear what groups attacked the election websites, but notes that some investigators say clues point toward Russia.

“So obviously it’s all hands on deck, making sure that every state is aware, and every state is being checked to make sure they’ve had no intrusions, and particularly no successful intrusions into the method of actually tabulating the vote,” she says.

Some cybersecurity professionals believe that state-sponsored Russian groups hacked the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. 

Frank Morris is a national correspondent and senior editor at KCUR 89.3. You can reach him on Twitter @FrankNewsman.

I’ve been at KCUR almost 30 years, working partly for NPR and splitting my time between local and national reporting. I work to bring extra attention to people in the Midwest, my home state of Kansas and of course Kansas City. What I love about this job is having a license to talk to interesting people and then crafting radio stories around their voices. It’s a big responsibility to uphold the truth of those stories while condensing them for lots of other people listening to the radio, and I take it seriously. Email me at frank@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @FrankNewsman.
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