Hire More Heroes Act of 2015—Continuedby Senator Deb Fischer
Posted on 2015-09-22
FISCHER. Madam President, I rise to reiterate the importance of
providing necessary resources to our men and women in uniform.
We are rapidly approaching the end of the fiscal year, and there are many major issues awaiting thoughtful consideration and action by Congress. There is one item on our to-do list that should have already been checked off; that is, fully funding our national security. That is why I am very disappointed that once again efforts to advance the Department of Defense Appropriations Act were halted today by my friends on the other side of the aisle.
Congress's first priority is, and should be, the defense of our Nation. We should not be hindered by political games in meeting that core duty that we have. The world is a dangerous place. It is not getting any safer. We cannot afford to be complacent about these threats. Our Nation faces challenges from nation states and asymmetric threats. These threats span the globe.
In Asia, Chinese behavior in the South China Sea threatens the longstanding freedom of navigation and our ability to operate on the high seas. Continuing China's pattern of increasing antagonism, a senior Chinese admiral recently declared that the entire South China Sea belongs to China. China's increasing military power, bullying of its neighbors, expansionist policies, and rejection of international norms threatens to upend the stability of that region. Simply put, China's behavior has dramatic consequences for the interests of the United States and our allies. The Asia-Pacific region will continue to grow in importance to the global economy. The ability of our military to operate freely in the Pacific is a key component to our national defense strategy and our economic security. We must vote to provide the necessary resources to address this challenge.
Additionally, the violence in Syria and Iraq continues to grow. This instability has created a vacuum in which terrorist groups like ISIL continue to operate. Its actions threaten the security of the United States and its allies in the region as well as basic human rights and religious freedom.
These challenges are far from the only threats that are facing our Nation. We still have thousands of servicemembers deployed in Afghanistan. What is more, regional conflicts in Yemen and Libya jeopardize U.S. interests. The same is true of the growing number of terrorist groups from the Sinai Peninsula to West Africa.
Congress must ensure that our Nation's military has the necessary resources to protect the United States and to meet our commitments to our allies. As the character of these threats changes between the conventional, the unconventional, and the unknown, failure to appropriate defense resources is a threat in itself to our defense strategy.
As a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I have heard our Nation's highest military officers repeatedly testify on a wide array of threats to our national security. For example, in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 29, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter highlighted the threat that is posed by Iran. Beyond its nuclear program, Iran's support for proxies like Hezbollah and the Assad regime, its hostility toward our ally Israel, and its contribution to the ongoing violence in Yemen--they all present very serious threats to the interests of the United States.
Additionally, referring to the nuclear deal President Obama has signed with Iran, Secretary Carter said the deal places ``no limitations on what the Department of Defense can and will do to pursue our defense strategy in the region''--``no limitations on what the Department of Defense can and will do.'' For the Department of Defense to operate robustly and swiftly and without limitation requires funding of its people, programs, equipment, supplies, and research and development. Yet with an array of dangers facing our Nation, the Commander in Chief of our military has stated he will veto defense spending unless it is accompanied by an increase in nondefense spending.
To be clear, this appropriations bill would provide the President with the funding he asked for in his budget request. A strong bipartisan majority in this body has already voted that we must provide our military men and women with the resources they need to protect this country. In June of this year, the Senate voted 71 to 25 and said we must authorize spending at a level similar to what is contained in the Defense appropriations bill, but when it comes to actually appropriating the necessary resources by stepping up and voting to supply our military servicemembers with the resources they need to accomplish the missions they are given, the minority party objects because they contend that nondefense spending is insufficient.
I fundamentally disagree with this view. All government spending is not created equal. Resources that support our soldiers should not be held up for any reason--least of all in an attempt to increase spending on various objectives that are championed by the EPA or the IRS.
For the first time in 6 years, the Senate Appropriations Committee has sent all 12 appropriations bills to the floor. That is a positive step. That is a good thing, but unfortunately, despite their support in committee, my friends on the other side of the aisle have blocked them on this floor.
So now we find ourselves once again at the brink. Once again, we are veering toward a crisis. We can and we must do better to responsibly govern. That starts with providing for our common defense.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.