House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton has reacted favourably to the $633.8bn federal defence budget proposed by President Obama on Friday.

Chairman Skelton said that in the current economic climate it is more important than ever to ensure that each defence dollar is spent wisely and effectively.

“While many difficult budget and policy decisions are ahead of us, I believe the $533.8bn requested for defence is a reasonable level, which will allow us to support our troops and keep America safe,” Skelton said.

“Members of the House Armed Services Committee are anxious to examine the details of the President’s defence budget proposal and get to work on the Fiscal Year 2010 defence authorisation bill.

“I commend the administration for making service members and their families a priority in this budget,” he said. “I am especially pleased that this year’s budget proposal does not impose new fees on the TRICARE health benefits our service members and their families need.

“I am also glad that the President’s budget includes funding to increase the size of the army and marine corps, which is essential to reduce the strain our service members are bearing as a result of our commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world.”

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This Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee will receive budget testimony from Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Admiral Mike Mullen, to be followed in the coming days by testimony from the civilian and military leaders of the army, air force, navy and marine corps.