WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis blamed the inability of Congress to deliver an annual defense budget for what he called a shockingly poor state of combat readiness as the United States faces fierce rivals, including an “urgent and dangerous threat” from North Korea.

Testifying Monday before the House Armed Services Committee, Mattis took aim at lawmakers for repeatedly approving short-term spending measures that provide too little money and lack the authority the services need to prepare their troops. He also faulted Capitol Hill for not repealing a law that limits defense spending even though there is broad support for doing away with the measure.

Mattis said: “Congress as a whole has met the present challenge with lassitude, not leadership.”

He called Pyongyang’s push for nuclear weapons “a clear and present danger.”


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