Floor and Committee Statements

"Mr. President, last night, the National Defense Authorization Act arrived at the White House at the desk of the President of the United States. President Obama has said he is going to veto it or he has threatened to veto it. I rise on the floor of the Senate today to beg him to rethink his position and caution him before he moves too swiftly to send a message to the rest of the world that America is disengaged.

"If he vetoes the National Defense Authorization Act, he is convincing and confirming for Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un, the Chinese government, the Ayatollah of Iran and the rest of the world that America is relegating itself to a spectator on the sidelines of world affairs rather than the beacon of hope for the oppressed, those in search of democracy and those who are at the foot of dictators. It is time that we have made sure our military was funded and authorized to the levels that are necessary to confront the world’s challenges which are more today than I have ever seen them.

"I've just returned from the Mediterranean where I was on the U.S.S. Winston Churchill, a destroyer, that's dealing with some of the problems of migration, of people fleeing totalitarian governments in the Middle East.

"I was at Fort Gordon, Ga., where the cyber command is now being stood up by the United States Army. Cyber terrorism and cyber threats are the biggest threats that we face today.

“I was at Fort Benning where our Strykers in the brigade are there in need of upgrades in continuance and improvements.

"I was at Moody in Valdosta, Ga., where the A-10's are housed but they're going away unless we extend them. This defense authorization bill will do that.

"This president, while the rest of the world is burning and falling apart, is looking away and saying, ‘No, I’m not going to agree with the overwhelming majority in Congress, instead I’m going to put America on the sidelines of world affairs.’ We cannot afford for that to happen.

"We are the greatest country on the face of this earth. You don’t find anybody trying to break out of the United States of America; they’re all trying to break in. But if we abandon our role of strength, we will never have the peace and the prosperity and the democracy that we want to see around the world. Instead, we will be a second-part player in the forces of world affairs.

"The National Defense Authorization Act is one thing Congress, House and Senate alike, has agreed upon overwhelmingly. The vote in the Senate was a veto-proof vote. The vote in the House was a significant vote. The president should read that to understand that the representatives of the people are saying to him: We want America to be strong. We don't want our American military to be reconstituted. We don't want the dictators of the world taking advantage of vacuums that we have created because we looked at other way and we abandoned ourselves.

"We need to think about something and think about it closely, Mr. President. Right now in Greece, for example, a half a million people in the last year have gone through there fleeing Syria, trying to find their way to Europe. A half a million. A million and a half will probably go through there next year. The world is trying to flee oppression and dictators wherever they are. And the rest of the free world cannot afford to take care of the rest of the world unless we stop what's happening in the Middle East.

"Bashar Al-Assad should be stopped; the Russians should be asked to retrench and come back, and we should get back to the table and be the strongest power in the world and be an effective player in the Middle East and being a power that is feared rather than one that’s looked at and wondered about. America is abandoning its role that it's always held since the end of World War II, and it’ll be a shame for us to do that.

"So Mr. President, let me ask you to do this: Think real hard before Halloween because that's when the time runs out. You have got to either sign the bill or veto it. Think real hard about the America that you took over as president of the United States seven years ago. Think about how we got to where we are today. Think about all those who have sacrificed, who have lived and who have died in some cases, to keep America free.

"Are you going to look them in the face or their memory in the face say to them, ‘You know, I'm just not going to reauthorize the National Defense Authorization Act? I'd rather play politics with those who fought and risked their lives for the United States of America?’

"In closing my remarks, I want to tell you what we did in the NDAA because I want the people of Georgia and the people of America to understand what the president will be vetoing.

"He will be vetoing improvements in our cyber command as we move our new cyber command of the United States Army to Fort Gordon.

"He will be saying to Guantanamo Bay ‘It’s okay, we can move the rest of the prisoners to Guantanamo Bay and move them into the United States of America and close it because the NDAA bill prohibits that from happening.’

"He will be able to say to the stryker brigade units, ‘You'll just have to wait a little bit longer for modernization.’

"He will have to say to our Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East, ‘We're going to do away with the A-10 Warthogs so you won't have the close-air support you have to have in the infantry and the military to fight the battles of the 21st century.’

"He will be saying to our veterans who come back home from around the world, ‘No, we're not going to do job training so that you can peacefully transfer from military improvement to a meaningful job in the private sector.’

"He will say to husbands and wives of military families, ‘We're taking away your basic housing allowance because there are two of you in the same family getting it and we’re cutting it in half even though you signed up for a program that guaranteed you would get it.’

"I don't want to be part of a country that says that to the men and women who volunteered to fight for us.

"Let's send the right message to the rest of the world. Let's sign the National Defense Authorization Act. Let's not play politics with those who risk their lives. Let's remember we still are in America, the greatest country on the face of this Earth. God has blessed us, but with that blessing comes responsibility. It means the president should act, act decisively and act now and not veto the National Defense Authorization Act."

###