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Sparks flew between Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday as a House Armed Services Committee hearing turned contentious when the Pentagon boss bristled at the concept of congressional oversight.
Austin and fellow officials including “woke” Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley made the trip to Capitol Hill where they were grilled over the 2023 Defense budget, a $773 billion request that drew criticism by the Florida congressman who clashed with Austin over military strategy, the debacles in Afghanistan and Ukraine and the Pentagon’s embrace of far-left ideology under the Biden regime, particularly Critical Race Theory indoctrination in the ranks.
While the majority of the hearing was uneventful, the atmosphere in the room turned tense when a back and forth between Austin and Gaetz became heated, resulting in a fiery rebuke of the former Raytheon lobbyist who was plucked from the corporate world by President Joe Biden who sought to make an impact with his base with another appointment based on race and gender, a tendency that continues to repeat itself.
“You guys have been blowing a lot of calls lately on matters of strategy, Mr. Secretary,” Gaetz said. “You guys told us that Russia couldn’t lose, you told us that the Taliban couldn’t immediately win, and so I guess I’m wondering, what in the $773 billion that you’re requesting today is going to help you make assessments that are accurate in the face of so many blown calls?”
Heated exchange between @RepMattGaetz and @SecDef Austin.
Secretary Austin: "This is the most capable, the most capable combat critical force in the world…the fact that you are embarrassed by your country–"
Rep. Matt Gaetz: "No. I am embarrassed by your leadership!" pic.twitter.com/U3H1S99GTv
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 5, 2022
After fixing the congressman with a nasty stare, Austin replied. “You’ve seen what’s in our budget, you’ve seen how the budget matches the strategy, and so I’ll let that speak for itself.”
“I’ve also seen that we’re behind, Mr. Secretary,” Gaetz replied as the SECDEF talked over him, “We’re behind in hypersonics, we failed to deter Russia, last year…”
“What do you mean we’re behind in hypersonics,” snapped Austin, “how do you make that assessment?”
The two then jousted verbally with the former four-star Army general continually interrupting before Gaetz could finish his question.
“By the way, your own people brief us that we are behind and China is winning,” as the Florida Republican regained control, “are you aware of the briefings we get on hypersonics?”
“I am certainly aware of briefings that we provide to Congress,” Austin said.
Rep. Gaetz continued, “But it’s not just the hypersonics, it’s all over the world, it’s in Taiwan where China last year flew more sorties than ever before, it’s North Korea, on pace to shatter prior records, the number of missiles that they are testing and so while everyone else in the world seems to be developing capabilities and being more strategic, we got time to embrace Critical Race Theory at West Point, to embrace socialism at the National Defense University, to do mandatory pronoun training, do you…”
Austin shot back, “You know again, this is the most capable, the most combat critical force in the world, it has been, and it will be so going forward.”
Gaetz responded, “Not if we continue down this path, not if we embrace socialism…” as the Pentagon chief continued to talk over him.
“The fact that you’re embarrassed by your, by your country,” Austin sniped, inadvertently setting himself up for what came next.
“No, no, no, I’m embarrassed by your leadership, I am not embarrassed by my country,” Gaetz said as he dropped the bunker buster on the overmatched bureaucrat. “I wish that we were not losing to China,”
“You know what?” Gaetz asked. “That is so disgraceful, that you would sit here and conflate your failures with the failures of the uniformed service members.”
“You guys said that Russia would overrun Ukraine in 36 days, you said that the Taliban would be kept at bay for months, you totally blew those calls and maybe we would be better at them if the National Defense University actually worked a little more on strategy and a little less on wokeism,” Gaetz said.
Austin objected, “Has it occurred to you that Russia has not overrun Ukraine because of what we’ve done, and our allies have done?”
“But that was baked into your flawed assessment,” Gaetz answered, “that was baked into your flawed assessment and so I saw that the Obama administration tried to destroy our military by starving it of resources and it seems the Biden administration is trying to destroy our military by force-feeding it wokeism, I yield back,” he said, getting in the last word over the rude and disrespectful Pentagon chief.
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