Fighting for Florida
By Senator Marco Rubio
One year ago, America's persistence and bravery resulted in a moment nearly ten years in the making, the death of Osama Bin Laden. That was an especially proud day for America, one that will always be remembered for the hard work that led to that moment, the President's decision to move forward and the successful mission executed by Seal Team Six.
Unfortunately, the world remains a dangerous place and requires American leadership to address the numerous security challenges we face at home and abroad. Bin Laden is gone, but there are many more dangerous terrorists around the world who seek our destruction, as well as rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea that pose significant nuclear threats. Having a 21st century military to meet these and other challenges is of critical importance.
Unfortunately, in just eight months, our national defense will be decimated by automatic cuts stemming from last year's failure to take meaningful steps to tackle our spending-driven debt crisis. Because the so-called Super Committee process failed, it triggered a defense sequestration of automatic, indiscriminate cuts. For years, our nation's top military leaders have warned that the growing debt posed a significant threat to our national security. Even Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said these cuts would "weaken our national defense." And now we are on the clock, facing that reality at year's end unless we act.
As I tour Northwest Florida this week, I will have the privilege of visiting some of the most important military installations in the country, including Tyndall Air Force Base, the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City, Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field. As a Floridian, I'm proud to represent these areas, which are such a vital part of our national security operations. But the reality is that the work done here has a far-reaching impact that affects all Americans' security.
Across the country, similar installations that are critically important to our defense also face the prospect of arbitrary cuts because of these automatic defense spending cuts. For the sake of our national security, we need to enact The Down Payment to Protect National Security Act, a bill I cosponsored, which overrides the automatic, across-the-board cuts to our nation's defense capabilities. The bill replaces the scheduled cuts by reducing the federal workforce through attrition and extending the current pay freeze for federal workers through June 30, 2014. By doing this, the legislation ensures the debt reduction targets laid out in the Budget Control Act are still on track to be met - without endangering our national security at a time when threats both at home and abroad remain very real.
This legislation is one option to help solve this problem, but the reality is Washington needs to have a sense of urgency to help stop these across-the-board cuts from taking full effect in 2013. The longer we wait to address this concern, the more tenuous our national security becomes.