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On The Senate Floor, Rubio, Cotton Discuss The Need For Increased Defense Spending In Senate Budget Proposal

Rubio: “I promise you, a world where America is no longer the most capable fighting force on the planet is a world that is more chaotic and less safe. So I look forward to having a debate on this and I encourage my colleagues to rally around these numbers.”

Washington, D.C. In a joint speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) spoke regarding an amendment they have filed to increase defense spending in the Senate budget proposal. The amendment would increase budget authority for defense to levels recommended by the bipartisan National Defense Panel and begin to reverse the disastrous impact sequestration is having on our nation’s military – both goals that Rubio called for in a September 2014 speech on rebuilding America’s national defense.

A video of Rubio’s entire joint speech with Cotton is available here. Excerpts of Rubio’s speech are below.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio

Senate Floor Speech

March 24, 2015

http://youtu.be/svXpJcXtOFQ

Senator Marco Rubio: “Let me begin by saying that I believe defense spending is the most important obligation of the federal government. That doesn’t mean we throw money away, or we put money in places where it doesn’t belong or we fund projects that have no utility. But it does mean that the most important thing the federal government does for America is defend it. And we have benefited from the fact that for the last hundred years, America has had the most powerful military force on the planet. This is especially true since the end of the Second World War. There have been times in our history when we’ve tried to save money by cutting back on defense spending, and each and every time has forced us to come back later and spend more to make up for it. Interesting to point out that in times in the past we’ve taken what they call a peace dividend – in essence, this idea that the world is no longer unstable or unsafe, and we can now spend less on defense – each and every time, we’ve had to come back and make up for it later as a new threat emerged. I don’t think we can make the argument that this is a time when the world is stable or peaceful, and yet this is a time of dramatic reductions of defense spending. During this administration, first came defense cuts of over $480 billion over ten years. Adding insult to injury, by the way, was that the savings that were found in the defense budget were redirected to our already bloated domestic programs.

“This is the worst possible time to be reducing our defense spending and yet that is what we are doing, and we are setting ourselves up for danger. I would recognize that people who have worked hard on this budget have tried to find new ways to address this through contingency funding. I respect the work they’ve done. And ultimately, that may be where we wind up. But before we do, it is important for this body to have a serious debate about how we are underfunding defense spending in this country and the dangers it poses for our future. And that is the purpose of this amendment. The purpose of this amendment is to replace the defense numbers in this budget with the projected Fiscal Year 2016 number from the Fiscal Year 12 Gates budget. This was the last defense budget, the Gates budget, that was put together solely on the assessment of the threats we face and the requisite military needs to deal with it. It is the budget that the bipartisan congressionally mandated National Defense Panel stated was the minimum required to reverse course and set the military on more stable footing.

“When we talk about modernization, we are not talking about the commander in chief today. When we decide how much money we’re going to spend on modernizing our military capabilities, what we’re deciding is what are the technologies and tools that are going to be available to a future commander in chief in five, ten or 15 years. These innovative systems that we use today, that have cut down on civilian casualties, that have allowed to improve our targeting, our intelligence-gathering capabilities, that have made the United States the premier fighting force in all of human history – all of those things were developed a decade ago or longer through years of experimentation and testing, through innovation. So if we cut back on that now in ten years, a future commander in chief will be faced with a threat to our national security, and we will not have the latest, greatest technology on the planet to address it.

“I promise you, a world where America is no longer the most capable fighting force on the planet is a world that is more chaotic and less safe. So I look forward to having a debate on this and I encourage my colleagues to rally around these numbers.

“The strategy should not be driven by the defense spending. The defense spending should be driven by the strategy. In essence, to put it succinctly, we should not have a strategy that’s based on limited resources: ‘We’re going to have to do the best we can with limited resources.’ We should first outline a strategy: ‘This is what the strategy should be for the future of our country to keep it safe.’ And then we should fund that strategy. Not the other way around. And that is not what we’re doing now. And we’re setting a dangerous precedent. And more importantly, we are putting at risk the national security of this country. And once you’ve made that decision, it is very difficult to reverse in a timely way. We have learned this lesson the hard way, multiple times in our history. I hope we don’t have to learn it again.”