Benishek: Defense bill critical to our nation’s safety
This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend a Michigan Defense Tour with a bi-partisan coalition of members of Congress from Michigan, along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow. We toured northern Michigan sites such as the Alpena Combat Readiness Center and Camp Grayling, facilities that employ thousands of Michigan residents and play a critical role in keeping our country safe. This is an issue that knows no party, and that’s why I was there, side by side with elected officials from across the political spectrum, to stand united in support of the men and women who keep our country safe.
Sadly, President Obama has decided to play politics with our national security by refusing to sign the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015. This bill keeps our military funded for the next fiscal year, and its passage is critical to the uninterrupted operation of our military. Additionally, the bill includes key reforms that will benefit our service members, such as establishing for the first time a 401k for young warriors to allow them to better prepare for a life after service. The bill also reforms the military acquisition process in order to prevent waste, fraud and abuse, and to ensure that our tax dollars are spent in a way that is fair and efficient. The bill does all this by funding our military at exactly the level which the president requested in his budget.
That’s why the NDAA was supported by a large bi-partisan majority in both the House and Senate. Just like during our Defense Tour in Michigan, men and women from both sides of the aisle came together to ensure that our nation’s military had the tools it needs to be successful. That’s why I was shocked to learn that President Obama has vetoed this bi-partisan legislation and has essentially left our troops hanging without the support they need to succeed.
You may be asking yourself, “Why on earth would the president do this to our military?” The answer is that the President Obama refuses to sign this bill because he feels that the Congress has not spent enough money on his pet domestic programs like the job-killing EPA and Obamacare, making it the first time the NDAA has been vetoed for reasons entirely unrelated to the legislation itself.
Remember when the president ran under the promise of creating a new atmosphere in Washington that encourages bi-partisanship and working together to get things done? The Congress has delivered a bi-partisan bill that makes many concessions to the president’s wishes, and still he refuses to sign it into law because he did not get everything he wanted on other pieces of legislation. It is clear that the President Obama has misplaced priorities, and it is our troops who will suffer.
In a time where ISIS is directly threatening our national security, Iran is hurtling towards a nuclear weapon, and Russia is exerting its strength both in Europe and the Middle East, it is clear that we must have a military that is strong and fully funded. It is bad enough that the president’s haphazard foreign policy has resulted in this chaos. The least that his Administration can do is not leave our military defenseless.
Our national security is too important for political games. The president’s veto is exactly the kind of politics that make Americans so disgusted with Washington. I am calling on the president to do his Constitutional duty and sign the National Defense Authorization Act. The men and women in our nation’s armed services deserve to know that we have their back.
Congressman Dan Benishek, R-Iron River, represents Michigan’s 1st District.