February 6, 2018 / 3:32 PM / a year ago

Mattis tells Congress: Budget impasse hurting troops' morale

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis waits to welcome British State Secretary for Defense Gavin Williamson to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused Congress on Tuesday of failing in its basic constitutional responsibilities to fund the military, telling lawmakers that their ongoing budget impasse was hurting troops’ morale and eroding U.S. advantages over adversaries.

“I cannot care more about our country’s defense than this Congress, for it is Congress alone which has the Constitutional authority to ‘raise and support Armies’ and to ‘provide and maintain a Navy,’” Mattis said.

He spoke as the Republican-led U.S. House prepared for a vote on another short-term budget measure that would avert another government shutdown, but which the military says prevents it from properly funding a sorely-needed reset and modernization of U.S. forces.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil StewartEditing by Chizu Nomiyama

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