Collins Urges Colleagues to Recognize Perilous Times, Pass National Security Supplemental


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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense, delivered remarks on the Senate floor today ahead of the Senate’s procedural votes on the national security supplemental package.  Senator Collins is managing the legislation on the Senate floor, which reflects the bipartisan bill she negotiated with Chair Patty Murray that the Senate passed in February.


In addition to providing funding for the U.S. military and industrial base and assisting our allies, this legislation includes the FEND Off Fentanyl Act she cosponsored.  This important legislation would help to disrupt the flow of fentanyl into the United States, including by requiring the President to sanction criminal organizations and drug cartels involved in trafficking fentanyl and its precursors.


A transcript of Senator Collins’ remarks are as follows:


“Madame President, I rise to urge my colleagues to strongly support the national security supplemental appropriations package before us.  This important legislation, which was approved overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, reflects in many ways, the bipartisan bill that Chair Murray and I negotiated and the Senate passed in February by a vote of 70-29. 


“Madame President, this bill would strengthen our military’s readiness, rebuild our defense industrial base, and assist our partners and allies at a volatile and dangerous time in world history.


“The national security package before us totals $95 billion.  Seventy-one percent of that funding – $67 billion – is defense funding. 


“It will be used to continue vital U.S. military support to Europe and the Middle East, where our partners and allies are under attack by authoritarian regimes, rogue states, terrorists, and other extremists.  It will expand and modernize U.S. defense production capacity.  It will replenish our own stockpiles with updated, more capable weapons and equipment; and Madame President, it will strengthen the U.S. submarine industrial base.


“In the past few months, I have received briefings from two combatant commanders – General Kurilla of the U.S. Central Command and Admiral Aquilino of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.  Each of them has told me that this is the most dangerous global environment that they have seen.  One said in 40 years, the other said in 50 years.


“The point, Madame President, is that the threats that the United States faces from an aggressive Iran and its proxies, an imperialistic Russia, and a hegemonic China are interconnected.  How we respond to one affects how the other will operate.  They require a strong response.


“The package before us provides the resources to address each of those threats.  And let me just take a few moments to highlight some of the bill’s key components.


“With regard to Iran and its proxies, earlier this month as we are all painfully aware, Iran attacked Israel with more than 300 drones and missiles.  Thanks to the U.S. Navy’s heroic response in assisting Israel, as well as the great coordination and response from our allies and partners, fewer than one percent of Iran’s weapons reached their targets in Israel.


“In all, more than 80 incoming drones and at least six missiles were intercepted by American forces, including the crews of two destroyers, I’m proud to say, that were built in Bath, Maine – the USS Carney and the USS Arleigh Burke.


“But let us make no mistake about what was going on with this attack.  Iran fully intended to kill as many Israelis as possible and to cause horrific damage.   It was only the skill, the bravery, and the precision of Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia that prevented that from happening.


“Madame President, this national security package includes $2.4 billion to support the ongoing U.S. Central Command operations in the Middle East, such as those that I just mentioned, but also to keep open vital shipping lanes and to protect commercial ships from all over the world from attack as they are transiting.  It also includes $4 billion to replenish Iron Dome and David’s Sling air defense systems, which have proven to be so critical to Israel’s self-defense, as well as $1.2 billion for Iron Beam, a promising new air defense capability.


“This legislation would also provide vital assistance to Ukrainians battling a brutal, unprovoked Russian invasion – and I know how strongly the presiding officer feels about this issue, as do I.   It includes $15.4 billion to help Ukraine purchase American-made weapons to use in its defense and $11.3 billion to support our service members in Poland and Germany, who are helping our allies equip and train Ukrainian forces.


“But let me underscore an important point.  It is not our troops who are dying on the Ukrainian battlefield.  It is the Ukrainians who are bravely defending their country.  If, however, Putin is allowed to succeed in Ukraine, he will continue to pursue his goal of recreating the former Soviet Union.  He’s made no bones about that.  He has said that repeatedly.  In my judgement, he would likely seize Moldova next, again invade Georgia as he did in 2008, continue to menace the Baltic nations, and threaten Poland.  And then, our troops would be involved in a much wider European war, because Putin would be ultimately attacking our NATO allies.


“The funding in this package aims to prevent such an outcome by supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against Putin’s aggression.


“And Madame President, let me debunk a myth I keep hearing over and over again.  And that is that the Europeans, somehow, are not doing their part in helping to equip Ukraine.  That is just inaccurate.  I have a chart that I used a few months ago when the supplemental was on the floor that ranked our European allies.  Well today, the United States would be even further down on this list, which measures security assistance to Ukraine as a percentage of GDP of that nation.  Today, we rank 16th on that list.  In other words, 15 other countries: Estonia, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Poland, Sweden, North Macedonia, Albania, Romania, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom are all spending more of their GDP to help Ukraine than we are.  And I think that is such an important point, and yet we hear over and over again, by those who are opposed to assistance, that the Europeans are not doing their part.  They are clearly doing their part.


“With regard to the Indo-Pacific, this package would help deter a menacing China whose Navy now exceeds the size of ours.  And in the budget that the President just sent up, that would only grow worse since the President is requesting the lowest number of new ships in 15 years and we cannot allow that to happen.


“This legislative package also includes $1.9 billion to replenish U.S. military inventories transferred under Taiwan Presidential Drawdown Authority, as authorized by last year’s National Defense Authorization Act.  This is the fastest way for DOD to get Taiwan the weapons it needs to strengthen its own defense. 


“The bill also includes $2 billion to provide Indo-Pacific allies and partners with American defense equipment and training, as well as $542 million for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s top unfunded requirements. 


“The package includes humanitarian assistance to address global needs, such as in Sudan and Gaza.  It prohibits, however, funding from being provided to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, which employed several terrorists who participated in the October 7th attack on Israel.  


“Finally, I want to note that this bill includes the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which I am proud to be a co-sponsor of.  This bill will help disrupt the flow of fentanyl into the United States, including by requiring the President to sanction criminal organizations and drug cartels involved in trafficking fentanyl and its precursors.  We are losing too many of our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors to this scourge, and we must be more aggressive in combatting it.  And I thank my colleague Senator Tim Scott for his leadership on this piece of the package. 


“Madame President, I once again call on my colleagues to recognize the perilous times in which we are living, and vote for this essential national security legislation.  We must pass it without further delay.


“Our adversaries are watching.  With our vote on this package, let us send them a strong message.  Terrorists will not succeed in wiping Israel off the map.  Authoritarian states will not be allowed to invade their free, independent, and democratic neighbors without consequences.  And this Congress, despite its divisions, will come together to ensure the United States and its military have what they need to stand tall, firm, and beside our allies.


“Thank you, Madame President.”