McConnell on Gov’t Funding, National Security Priorities

‘So let’s be absolutely clear: the United States is capable of destroying those who threaten our allies, our interests, and American lives. A global superpower is equipped to bring enormous force to bear against its enemies. But deterrence isn’t just about capabilities… Deterrence requires that our adversaries believe we’re willing to use these capabilities. It requires credibility.’

“House and Senate negotiators worked hard to reach an agreement on topline government funding levels for the current fiscal year. And work continues to deliver full-year appropriations through regular order.

“Shutting down the government – even part of it – would interrupt this important progress. That’s why, today, the Senate will begin the process of passing a short-term extension of government funding to allow this work to continue.

“I’m grateful that the Speaker of the House was able to secure serious roll-backs on reckless spending. But it remains to be seen whether the Biden Administration intends to get serious on its responsibility to provide for the common defense.

“For three straight years, the President has turned in budget requests with real dollar cuts to funding America’s armed forces.

“Even a quick glance around the world shows how little we can afford to short-change the men and women tasked with defending the United States and our interests. We need to take this responsibility seriously.

“On a related matter, three years ago, I warned the Biden Administration that it needed to take a tougher approach to growing threats from Iran and its terrorist proxies.

“I warned against removing the Houthis from the terrorist list. And I called attention to how, even then, Tehran was increasing its shipments of ever deadlier and longer-range weapons to the terrorists in Yemen.

“But from the beginning, the Administration chose to meet Iranian aggression with accommodation. The President’s team operated on a profoundly naïve assessment of the threat that we face.

“They abandoned pressure and squandered leverage in an attempt to revive a failed nuclear deal.

“They hectored regional partners under attack, as if their defensive actions against Houthi terrorists had provoked these Iranian proxies in the first place.

“And then they trumpeted the utterly fictional successes of their approach.

“Remember how the President’s national security advisor described the state of the world last September in an incredibly timed essay in Foreign Affairs.

“Just weeks before Iran-backed terrorists would slaughter 1,200 Israelis on October 7th, he claimed that the United States had, ‘enhanced deterrence… to deter further aggression’ and that the Middle East was, ‘quieter than it has been for decades.’

“Three years in, the price of these delusions has become inescapably obvious.

“To the extent that President Biden sought détente with the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism, he was woefully ill-advised about the nature of the Iranian regime. To the extent that his Administration ever seriously sought to deter Iran and its proxies, their efforts have demonstrably failed.

“So let’s be absolutely clear: the United States is capable of destroying those who threaten our allies, our interests, and American lives. A global superpower is equipped to bring enormous force to bear against its enemies.

“But deterrence isn’t just about capabilities. It is not enough for Iran to know America has the means to demolish its military and its network of terrorists.

“No. Deterrence requires that our adversaries believe we’re willing to use these capabilities. It requires credibility.

“And when credibility is eroded, it is not easily restored.

“It will be difficult for the Biden Administration to convince Tehran and its agents that after three years spent scolding our partners for wanting to defend themselves from Houthi terrorist attack, America now intends to do the same. 

“It will be difficult for the Administration to convince our adversaries that, after years of bending over backward to accommodate Iran and wringing our hands over the use of military force against its proxies, we are now prepared to respond directly against Iranian targets.

“Restoring credible deterrence means identifying what our adversaries hold dear, and proving we’re willing to hold it at risk.

“I am certain, Mr. President, that there are things Tehran considers more precious than empty terrorist warehouses in Syria or Houthi radar systems in Yemen.

“Iran uses proxies precisely because they consider them expendable! Taking pains to avoid killing these proxies or targeting Iranian forces and interests, themselves, tells Tehran that its strategy is working.

“President Biden owes it to the American people to explain how exactly he intends to compel Iran and its proxies to actually change their behavior.

“He owes it to the nation to start explaining how the stakes of conflict in the Middle East ripple across the world. How the challenges we face in the Red Sea, Ukraine, and the Indo-Pacific are connected. And how the costs of failing to meet them compound.

“Unfortunately, the Biden Administration is not alone in its failure to take this responsibility seriously. This afternoon, the Senate must take it upon ourselves to reject an attempt to degrade our nation’s credibility even further.

“The resolution brought forward by Senator Sanders is little more than performative left wing politics.

“It is not, as our colleague would suggest, about authorizing a report on aid to Israel.

“It is not even about human rights.

“It is about tying the hands of a close ally locked in a necessary battle against savage terrorists.

“It is a gift to left wing anti-Israel activists.

“So, Mr. President, colleagues who share concern about the plight of innocent people in Gaza should set their attention on the Hamas terrorists who orchestrated their suffering.

“The terrorists who take hostages, steal humanitarian aid, and use their own citizens as human shields.

“The terrorists who go to loathsome extremes to imperil innocent human life.

“America’s ally, Israel, takes extraordinary risks to minimize civilian casualties. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Iran’s other proxies across the region go to extraordinary lengths to maximize senseless death.

“We must not confuse one for the other. The distinction here is clear and bold-faced.

“Any colleague considering a vote for the Sanders resolution ought to consider what message they’d like to send to America’s allies and partners facing shared threats around the world… and what message they’d like to send to the adversaries who doubt our resolve.

“Israel deserves America’s firm support as it roots out terrorist killers and restores its security.

“Soon, the Senate will have an opportunity to make necessary investments in our capacity to support Israel and other threatened partners – from Ukraine to Taiwan or the Philippines.

“As the threats to our interests grow, so do the costs of defending them.

“In just the time the Senate has been working on the national security supplemental, operational costs for U.S. forces in the Middle East have risen.

“As I’ve warned for weeks, using million-dollar missiles to defend against thousand-dollar drones strains an already insufficient inventory of long-range capabilities.

“The supplemental is our chance to expand our capacity to meet the national security challenges we face.

“The American people deserve leaders who are willing to take these challenges seriously.”


Related Issues: Appropriations, National Security, Border Security, Israel, America's Military