WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today took to the Senate floor to call on the Senate to swiftly pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes critical support for Montana’s military missions.
Daines also called on Senate Democrats to stop blocking the Department of Defense Appropriations Act and fund the military.
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Daines made the following remarks on the Senate floor this afternoon:
“Montana has a rich legacy of service to our country— from maintaining our nation’s ‘peace through strength’ strategy at Montana’s Malmstrom Air Force Base, where we oversee one-third of our nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, to our Army and Air National Guard members’ work to support our communities in times of emergency and respond to calls for deployment overseas.
“Montana is playing a critical role in meeting our nation’s security and military needs.
“Montanans know firsthand the importance of supporting our men and women in uniform.
“The National Defense Authorization Act is critical to ensuring service members have the funding and support they need to fulfill their missions.
“The NDAA prioritizes the needs of our service members, while protecting the important role that Montana holds in our national defense.
“The passage of this legislation is critical to carrying out our missions in an increasingly dangerous world.
“Earlier this year, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He described the perilous state of our global security: ‘The United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War.’
“The threats we face from Syria, Russia, China, ISIS are too serious for our troops to lack the resources they need to protect and defend our nation from foreign threats.
“Yet, the leader of our troops— our Commander-in-Chief— threatened to veto the bipartisan NDAA, which would fund our military priorities at the levels he requested.
“This is the same foreign policy agenda that has become the hallmark of President Obama’s now famous ‘lead from behind’ strategy.
“Even former Democrat President Jimmy Carter agrees.
“Earlier this summer, President Carter was asked whether he thought President Obama’s foreign policy was a success or failure on the world stage. President Carter replied: ‘I can’t think of many nations in the world where we have a better relationship now than we did when he took over.’
“Carter then continued, saying: ‘I would say that the United States influence and prestige and respect in the world is probably lower now than it was six or seven years ago.’
“And just this weekend, the Washington Post’s editorial board criticized President Obama for holding our troops ransom for his domestic policy agenda: ‘American presidents rarely veto national defense authorization bills, since they are, well, vital to national security…Refusing to sign this bill would make history, but not in a good way.’
“It is a mistake for President Obama to use our troops for ‘leverage.’ Our troops deserve better.
“The NDAA seeks to provide our troops with the support they deserve:
“It fully authorizes spending on defense programs at the president’s budget request level of $612 billion for Fiscal Year 2016.
“It authorizes $75 million for the Southern Border Security Initiative to help address challenges facing the U.S.-Mexican border.
“It supports service members beyond their years of sacrifice to our nation by extending retirement benefits to the vast majority of service members left out of the current system.
“It includes a provision that mirrors my legislation, the Securing Military Personnel Response Firearm Initiative (SEMPER FI) Act, which empowers a member of the Armed Forces to carry appropriate firearms, including personal firearms, at DOD installations, reserve centers and recruiting centers.
“Additionally, this bill provides much-needed support for Montana’s military missions.
“There’s $19.7 million for the Tactical Response Force Alert Facility at Malmstrom.
“$4.26 million for an energy conservation project at Malmstrom.
“It authorizes funding for Avionics Modernization Program Increments I and II to ensure that our C-130s are able to stay in the air.
“It authorizes funding for C-130 engine modifications.
“And, it expresses the sense of the Congress that the nuclear triad plays a critical role in ensuring national security and that it is the policy of the U.S. to operate, sustain, and modernize or replace the triad and to operate and modernize or replace a capability to forward-deploy nuclear weapons and dual-cable fighter-bomber aircraft.
“The heroes of our nation serve our country selflessly day in and day out. They don’t deserve partisan politics.
“It was unfortunate that critical appropriations to our military and veterans were blocked in recent weeks.
“Today’s vote shows there is overwhelming bipartisan support to fund our troops.
“Given this, it is senseless that partisan politics continues to block funding for our troops.
“I urge Democrat Senators to put politics aside and do what’s right. Join me in supporting the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill.
“Our heroes deserve our utmost respect and the security to carry out their missions without, threats from our Commander-in-Chief.
“Congress has a constitutional duty to provide for the funding of our troops. This body needs to uphold that responsibility.
“Let’s do what is right. Let’s pass the National Defense Authorization Act.”