Byrne: As Democrats fight, national security loses
Protecting the safety of the American people is our must fundamental duty in Congress. In a city where few things receive bipartisan support, providing for the national defense has remained an area of compromise.
For 58 straight years, the House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Last month, the Senate did its job. By a vote of 86 to 8, it passed a bipartisan defense authorization bill. In the House, things were to play out differently.
If you’ve followed anything going on in Washington the past several weeks, you’ve seen the drama and infighting within the House Democrat Caucus. It truly is open warfare. Speaker Pelosi has had to deal with everything from radical socialist demands for legislation that won’t pass and even Twitter battles between her own members.
Recently the top staffer for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the leader of the radicals, called a group of Democratic Congressmen – several of them people of color – racists. Their crime in the eyes of the socialist regressives was supporting a bipartisan, Senate-passed bill to provide aid to migrants at the border.
However, to this new class who want nothing less than a complete breaking apart of our society and a restructuring of our entire way of life, nothing Pelosi offers them will ever be enough.
In a caucus meeting last week, Pelosi pleaded with her members to keep their internal battles private. It remains to be seen if the public spectacle will subside. Recent history suggests it will continue.
As the storm within the Democrat Caucus continued, the NDAA came to the House floor. I voted against this bill when we marked it up in the Armed Services Committee. This is a bad bill that does not provide the funding our military leaders insist is necessary to keep us competitive against China and Russia. It cuts personnel and nuclear deterrence spending. It strips aid from our allies overseas and limits President Trump’s military and diplomatic authority. It prohibits the funding of critical national security efforts at our border. It even begins the process of shuttering detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Republicans offered good faith amendments to improve the bill.
House Democrats blocked my amendment to prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States from even being debated on the House Floor. Forty detainees remaining in Guantanamo are architects of the September 11th attacks, Osama bin Laden body guards, and Al-Qaeda operatives. These are bad people who have done harm to the United States in the past and would again if given the opportunity. The fact that my amendment did not even get a chance to be voted on tells you a lot about the new Democratic party.
Even undercutting our national defense was not enough for many in the Democrat party. Speaker Pelosi did not yet have the votes to pass her bill.
Pelosi could have done what Speakers and leaders of the House Armed Services Committee have done for 58 years. She could have sought a middle ground to ensure our men and women in the military have what they need to protect us. Unfortunately, Pelosi caved to radical demands and went in the other direction.
For days, the House voted on amendment after amendment offered by Democrats. Dozens of items from the socialist wish list were added to the bill. In the end, the bill received enough votes from Democrats to pass, but this bill will never become law.
Despite this leftward turn, the most extreme House members still did not vote for the NDAA. For them, nothing will be enough except the radical remaking our country, even at the expense of national security. This war among Democrats will continue.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.