When I’m home, Oklahoma moms tell me over and over that they are worried about our nation’s security. They are concerned for their kids; they are concerned about terrorism; they are concerned that the world is spinning out of control.
Oklahoma moms are right to be concerned. The world has become a very chaotic place. The challenges need a clear strategy and the commitment to act on the strategy. Each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes the budget authority of the Department of Defense and some of our national security programs.
Providing for national security is the primary responsibility of the government. Last week, the NDAA passed Congress by overwhelming bipartisan majorities — 270 to 156 in the House and 70 to 27 in the Senate, yet the president says he may veto it.
It is hard to believe the president pushes for deals made with Iran but threatens a veto of our troops while the world has become so dangerous.
During one day last week, Americans conducted 24 air strikes with coalition military forces against ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq. And now, Russia has moved forces into Syria, further complicating our efforts. While Secretary John Kerry promised a more peaceful Middle East with the Iran nuclear deal, we have seen Iran continue to support unrest in Israel, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban threatens to roll back the progress we’ve made. Africa is plagued with unrest and Islamic extremists run rampant. South of our border, narcotic terrorists continue to transport drugs, which destabilizes Central America. Across the Pacific, China is building islands for military use in disputed waters, as well as outfitting a world-class Navy.
The NDAA is the primary legislative means to addressing the challenges we face. This is why it is so surprising the president would threaten a veto.
The NDAA reinforces the mission against ISIS. It addresses Iran’s actions to threaten regional stability. The NDAA extends vital authorities for our forces still in Afghanistan. It authorizes unique capabilities to address illicit trafficking of drugs in Central America.
The NDAA sets a clear strategy for Asia. It provides for stronger cyber capabilities, as well as means to safeguard our technological superiority. In response to the shootings in Chattanooga, the NDAA finally empowers post commanders to authorize members of the military to carry firearms.
And yet, the president still threatens a veto.
His first reason for a veto is because the NDAA includes a funding mechanism called the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund. The ironic part is that every other National Defense Authorization Act the president has signed while in office has included Overseas Contingency Operations Funding, often at higher spending levels.
The president’s second reason for threatening a veto is because he doesn’t like the provisions surrounding the terrorist prison located at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO). But every year, the president has already signed into law provisions surrounding GTMO transfers to the United States.
As I said, the challenges we face need a clear strategy about our plan, the intent to act and, finally, the ability to act on the intentions.
It’s time for us to provide for our national security, so when an American mom asks if we are doing our job to keep her family safe, we can say “yes.”
— Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford
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