Washington, D.C.— Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) today [Wednesday, November 16, 2016] spoke on Senate floor about his intention to offer a $26 billion emergency- spending defense supplemental for FY 2017. Click here to watch the video in full. Additionally, the full text of his remarks is available below.
The world may be more unstable than ever. The security architecture that we built after World War II is at risk.
Our parents and grandparents fought to keep the world free from a conflict between major powers.
They created order out of the chaos of world war and genocide. They protected our freedom and ensured that our democratic ideals would be the dominant power in the world.
The foundation of that order is the U.S. military. Since they toppled Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, they held firm against the North Korean assault on the democratic south.
They faced down a powerful Soviet Union through decades of Cold War.
They liberated Kuwait and they’ve shed blood and sweat—for over a decade—keeping America safe from Islamic terrorism.
Today, our military is composed solely of volunteers. We don’t press our people into service. They choose to serve.
Since the draft was abolished, we’ve had a basic compact with our men and women in uniform.
In exchange for their service, we ensure that they have the best training, equipment, and leadership that America has to offer.
We make certain that—if our troops must face the enemy—they are equipped to meet the task.
With regret, I must say that this compact is fraying, that we’re failing in our duty to our military.
Today, the Armed Forces face a growing number of threats, and a shrinking budget.
Russia is resurgent. They don’t think they lost the Cold War, only that they were behind at halftime. Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine and Georgia make it clear that Moscow seeks to dominate its so-called near abroad.
And Moscow wants to divide the great Atlantic Alliance, viewing the confederation of democracies as a threat to the power and authority of the Putin government.
Their bombers probe our airspace in ways unseen since the Cold War. They recently sent a carrier fleet through the English Channel.
They probe our electronic defenses with daily cyber-attacks, and they rattle the saber of their nuclear arsenal at the West.
China has also risen. They’ve sought to establish military control over the East China and South China Seas.
China too probes and attacks American servers, stealing vital military and industrial secrets.
They have quadrupled their defense spending in the past few years, seeking control over the Pacific Rim.
North Korea is growing a nuclear arsenal and developing the capability to hit any American city with those nuclear bombs.
Iran continues to violate the terms of its nuclear agreement, and is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Just last month, Iranian-backed rebels fired Chinese anti-ship missiles at an American warship. Had it not been for the skill of the crew and our modern defenses, sailors may have come home in boxes.
In Afghanistan, we’ve lost fifteen service members in 2016. They continue the fight daily, protecting Americans from the threat of a resurgent terrorist threat.
And how have we repaid their service?
We’ve cut their budget by over a trillion dollars.
We’ve told them to do more, with less.
We’ve ignored their needs, their long and repeated deployments, their brutal operations tempo.
We’ve cut their pay, forced them to sail on rickety ships, and told them to fly on aircraft that so old, they date back the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations.
Neglect has taken its toll.
In January, twelve Marines died in a helicopter crash. Low readiness and subpar flying hours were to blame.
Last week, six Green Berets were killed in 72 hours. They died in three separate incidents, stretching from the continental United States to Jordan to Afghanistan.
The Air Force is 4,000 Airmen short of what’s needed to maintain their fleet. They’re short 700 pilots to fly that fleet. They’re salvaging parts from scrapyards to keep their aircraft flying.
Since May, five F-18s Hornets and Super Hornets have crashed, killing two pilots and destroying all five jets.
In the Army, just 30% of Brigade Combat Teams are properly trained and equipped to fight.
The Navy has had to defer to maintenance for combat ships, leaving them more dangerous for the crews.
We’re wrong to ask our military to work and risk their lives in these conditions.
We cannot wait to until the next fiscal year to fix this.
This is a crisis. This is no way to treat our troops. The military needs relief now.
I will soon introduce a $26 billion emergency-spending request, a lifeline to our overworked warfighters.
The funds will be used address immediate needs in military readiness and overseas operations.
It will give our warfighters critical relief in trying times.
They will help keep our men and women in uniform safe as we ask them to do an increasingly dangerous job.
I ask my colleagues to put aside old debates and do what is right for our Armed Forces.
They’re the ones risking their lives daily, not us.
They’re the ones on the front lines defending our country, not us.
They’re the ones begging for help, and we are the ones obligated to provide it.