Our members of Congress will be debating and voting on the federal budget in a few short weeks. The administration is proposing a huge addition to the defense budget, along with significant cuts to environmental, health and social programs in the 2018 spending plan. The Defense Department supplemental request is for $30 billion.

Various estimates for our current defense budget range from $600 billion to $1 trillion each year. We only have estimates because we have never seen an audit of the Department of Defense. Congress has debated the issue many times. However, there has been no compliance from the DOD, in spite of credible reporting showing a suppressed internal DOD report found waste of $125 billion over a five-year period.

The DOD budget makes up 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending. Given all of the serious issues facing the country – to name only two, health care and infrastructure – it is incumbent on members of Congress to be well-informed as they engage in debate, decisions and votes.

I urge our Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin, along with their peers in Congress, to seriously demand an accounting from the Department of Defense before massive increases are approved. The people of Maine and the United States deserve no less.

Jerry Provencher