History was made again this week in your United States House of Representatives, but as we have come to expect under the Democrat majority led by Speaker Pelosi, it was for all the wrong reasons.
For the last 60 years, the annual vote in Congress to authorize your Department of Defense has been conducted in a bipartisan manner with both Republicans and Democrats coming together to support our military and its mission. The National Defense Authorization Act is an important vote that determines how resources are allocated to keep America safe. That all changed this week when Democrats advanced the authorization on party lines placing political agendas above the men and women in uniform who sacrifice daily.
The National Defense Authorization Act is a vital piece of legislation that maintains the most powerful military in the world as it is paramount in providing funding, sustaining our nation’s security, and ensuring equipment, maintenance, readiness, and personnel levels reflect current and future national security threats. It is one of those ‘must do’ policies which advances through Congress and to the President’s desk for signature year after year. In fact, contrary to what has become routine in Washington, the United States Senate actually acted first earlier this month and passed their version of the Defense Authorization by a bipartisan vote of 86-8. Unfortunately, instead of following the Senate’s lead, Speaker Pelosi and the democratic caucus took this traditionally non-partisan legislation in a different direction.
Under the guidance of their new leaders on the Left, Democrats decided that the budget containing our service members was the place to make their progressive stand. They slashed needed military operations and maintenance funding and reduced personnel accounts – the accounts used to pay our troops, provide housing and benefits. They inserted clearly partisan language obstructing the President from carrying out his Constitutionally protected prerogative as Commander-in-Chief. Liberals tacked on language preventing the President from sending troops to defend our borders, they disallowed money to backfill military construction projects, defunded the President’s request for border security including border barriers, and ultimately gave our military billions less than what our President and his Generals have said is needed to stay safe and get the job done. Simply put, playing political games with the resources for our military and the safety of our country is crossing the line.
I hope this isn’t the new normal in the U.S. House of Representatives. For America to maintain its place in the world, we must be above petty politics. Emerging threats from sophisticated adversaries is not just a democrat problem nor is it a challenge to only be tackled by republicans. Providing for the common defense is a Constitutional mandate that we must all collectively face in order to globally maintain a strategic advantage. The bill they passed this week threatens our security while emboldening our enemies. It does nothing to deter aggressive actors like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea and continues the overlook and underfunding of the military which marked the President Obama years. The intent of the other side should be clear, our security isn’t their priority. Just this week progressives called for eliminating the Department of Homeland Security and the agencies which help protect us from terrorist threats at home and abroad while also helping protect our borders. Weakened military, no borders – the reality on the Left is real, and it’s scary.
Jason Smith represents Missouri’s 8th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Contact him at 573-335-0101 or visit https://jasonsmith.house.gov