Senator Collins Opening Remarks at Hearing on National Security Supplemental Request
Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee on Defense, delivered the following opening remarks at a full Committee hearing with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the President’s national security supplemental funding request:
“Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin for joining us today to discuss the President's national security supplemental funding request.
“I had hoped that Secretary Mayorkas also would be here, but he is testifying this morning before another Senate committee. I very much appreciate that the Chair has scheduled an opportunity next week for Secretary Mayorkas to come before us and describe what is needed in the supplemental to provide effective border security, to stem the flood of illegal migrants and fentanyl crossing into the United States. Through the end of the fiscal year, as of September 30, there were a record 2.5 million encounters at our Southwest border. This real threat to our homeland must also be addressed.
“The collective threats that the United States faces, from an aggressive Iran and its proxies, an imperialist Russia, and a hegemonic China, are also challenges that require our attention and cooperation from our allies.
“Adversaries in the Middle East are launching attacks, not only against our ally Israel, but also against American troops in Syria and Iraq. In Ukraine, the determined patriots backed by the United States, the European Union, Japan, Australia, and others, continue to battle Putin's brutal and unprovoked invasion. In Asia, China's dangerous game of brinkmanship is targeting our aircraft flying in the region, rattling sabers at Taiwan, and physically challenging claims of the Philippines and Vietnam in the South China Sea.
“Some have argued for decoupling funding to address these threats, and focusing only on the Iranian-backed terrorists, who massacred so many Israelis on October 7. We must recognize that our national security interests are being aggressively challenged by all these authoritarian actors in an effort to dismantle the international order that we established following World War II.
“Iran has been Russia's accomplice in Ukraine, through the export of weapons and drones that terrorize Ukrainian civilians. Just last week, Russia hosted Hamas and Iranian leadership, where Hamas praised Russia's criticism of Israel's actions to defend itself following the recent terrorist attacks. China refuses to condemn either Russia's second invasion of Ukraine, or Hamas' attacks, despite both having committed war crimes, targeting civilians, and both having stolen children from their families.
“If we fail to thwart these efforts, there will be dire consequences that will jeopardize our national security. The metric by which I will scrutinize the funding proposed by the Administration's request is simple. Does it make America more secure or not?
“Let me offer a few reflections.
“When I was in Israel with Senator Graham, Senator Cardin, and several other Senators last week, we met with families whose loved ones, including very young children, are being held hostage by Hamas. During the October 7 terrorist attacks, parents were murdered in front of their children. The actions of Hamas are nothing less than evil, and we must stand by our friend Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East.
“Like Israel, Ukraine was the victim of an unprovoked attack by a repeat violent offender. The United States, albeit slower than many of us would have liked, stepped in with assistance for Ukraine to help repel Russia's battlefields advances. Let's review what has happened since we have helped Ukraine in its defense against Russia's second invasion:
- No U.S. soldiers have lost their lives fighting in Ukraine.
- Our adversary, Russia, is weaker.
- NATO is stronger than ever.
- Finland has joined the alliance, and I expect that Sweden will do the same soon.
“Each of these outcomes is in America's interest.
“Finally, the supplemental request includes more than $30 billion to replenish our military's weapons stockpiles and invest in and strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base in many states. The requested funding will refill the stockpiles and increase the production capacity of key munitions in greatest demand.
“None of this funding goes overseas or to another country. It makes America stronger, by modernizing our arsenal of democracy right here in our country, and improving the readiness of the U.S. military to deter any adversary seeking to harm the United States.
“Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin, we look forward to hearing your specific justifications.
“Before we turn to your opening statements, let me reiterate that Chair Murray and I want to enact all 12 appropriations bills, including the State, Foreign Ops bill and the Defense appropriation.
“As former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates once told me, the most important action Congress can take to bolster our national security is to pass full-year appropriations bills to avoid the harm to military readiness that comes from short-term funding patches or sequestration. Secretary Austin, I hope that you will comment on that in your opening remarks.”
Next Article Previous Article