Funding our national defense

By: Robert Pittenger - Contributing Columnist

America faces serious threats from radical Islamist terrorism. As well, we face grave peril as President Obama chose to give Iran a clear path to nuclear weapons, and increasingly provocative action from Russia, China, and North Korea.

President Obama has allowed the military to fall to its lowest preparedness level since before World War II. There is inadequate funding for vital training and maintenance, which reduces our readiness to combat threats. President Obama has not invested in expanding our vital missile defense system.

That’s why this week, I joined a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to ensure America’s military readiness.

The National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill, authorizes $610 billion for military personnel, weapons systems, and other national security programs, blocks further cuts to the U.S. Army and increases the number of Marines and Airmen.

This bill increases funding for maintenance and training, and provides for vital missile defense.

We also remembered the sacrifice of the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our liberty by providing the first military pay raise in 3 years, despite the President’s attempts to block the raise. The legislation also makes necessary updates and improvements to the military’s health system.

Our legislation will help keep Americans safe by restricting President Obama’s ability to transfer terrorist detainees from Guantanamo Bay into the United States. While closing Guantanamo has been a priority for President Obama to score political points, this bill strictly prohibits using any funds to close the base.

With increasing use of technology and interconnectivity, we’ve seen cyber-attacks emerge as one of primary national security threats of the 21st century. Through the NDAA, we’ve prioritized our cybersecurity by funding $6.7 billion, a $900 million increase, for cyber operations.

As we continue to work to keep our systems safe from adversaries, cybersecurity needs to remain a priority. Next month, I’m hosting an international security forum with participants from more than 20 countries to discuss cybersecurity and terrorism financing, among other topics. Forum speakers include security experts, Treasury and Homeland Security officials, as well as high level officials from South America and the Middle East.

My number one Constitutional obligation is to provide for the common defense. The NDAA does that by providing vital funding for our national defense, based on recommendations from military leaders and not political considerations.

THE WEEK IN WASHINGTON

In addition to passing NDAA, the House passed a bill to address the outbreak of the Zika virus. In conjunction with the $589 million the Administration repurposed from unused Ebola funds, the House shifted an additional $350 million of unused Ebola funds along with $270 million repurposed within the Department of Health and Human Services to research cures and fight the outbreak. All told, we have allocated $1.2 billion to combat Zika, and we have done so in a fiscally responsible manner. Instead of increasing spending, we are reappropriating money from other programs in the most efficient way possible.

My office gave leadership to supporting a new StampOut PTSD stamp, advocated by the family of Garland Denny, a veteran who worked tirelessly on this project. This week we sent a letter to the Postmaster General, cosigned by more than 100 Members of Congress, including Senators Burr and Tillis, to support Mr. Denny’s stamp submission.

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-Charlotte, represents North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, which will include Anson County next year under state redistricting maps.

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Robert Pittenger

Contributing Columnist