Byrne, Brooks slam House Democrats for politicizing national defense
Congressmen Bradley Byrne (AL-01) and Mo Brooks (AL-05) on Thursday voted against what they criticized as a hyper-partisan Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee.
The vote occurred at approximately 6:30 a.m. EST in the morning, coming after an all-night debate and markup session. The committee advanced its version of the NDAA by a 33-24 vote, with all Democrats voting in the affirmative compared to all but two Republicans voting against the measure.
This comes in stark contrast to recent precedent. The NDAA has been signed into law for 58 consecutive years, and the House Armed Services Committee usually passes the NDAA by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. For example, that committee passed the Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA on a bipartisan 60-1 vote when Republicans held the majority last year.
This time around, Republicans like Byrne and Brooks are calling out Democrats for putting politics over the safety of the American people.
By reducing the overall topline, the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA reduces the total resources available to improve and maintain the nation’s defense readiness. The bill also expressly prohibits the use of funds to address the humanitarian and security crisis at the United States’ border with Mexico.
“National security and military programs are critical to Alabama, so I could not support the Democrat-written defense authorization bill that did not include the resources necessary to support our military men and women and restore our defense readiness,” Byrne said in a statement.
Byrne introduced amendments during the committee meeting to prohibit the transfer of Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees to the U.S. and to eliminate prohibitions on President Donald Trump modernizing Air Force One. However, Democrats defeated those amendments.
“Despite growing threats to our national security, Democrats used what has traditionally been a bipartisan defense bill to weaken our border security, harm our nuclear posture, and ease the transfer of Guantanamo detainees into the United States,” he lamented. “Democrats included a provision to block President Trump from picking the paint in the new Air Force Ones, but they couldn’t even provide the base amount of resources Pentagon leaders say is necessary to defend our country.”
“The defense of our country is too important an issue, so I hope Democrats stop with the political games and decide to work together to ensure our military has the policy and resources necessary to keep the American people safe,” Byrne concluded.
‘Blinded by their hatred for President Trump and crass love for political power’
Brooks also released a statement after the committee meeting, explaining that “on the whole, the FY20 NDAA undermines America’s border security and national security.”
“It’s unfortunate Socialist Democrats on the committee in bad faith refused to consider or support constructive Republican amendments that were repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted down on party-line votes,” he decried.
Brooks opined that in its current form as advanced by the House committee, the FY 2020 NDAA would be vetoed by the president.
“While the FY20 NDAA has good parts, 24 Republican Members of Congress, including myself, concluded that this FY20 NDAA draft simply puts too many American lives at risk,” the north Alabama congressman advised.
Remainder of Brooks’ statement as follows:
For starters, Socialist Democrats blatantly used the FY20 NDAA to promote open borders by attacking, thwarting, and undermining President Trump’s existing yet rather meager border security powers and policies. To be clear, border security IS national security. The FY20 NDAA blocks President Trump from using existing law and existing funding to build a border wall or otherwise promote border security that protects and saves American lives. In so doing, Socialist Democrats supported the deaths of over 30,000 Americans each year (2,000+ American deaths/year via homicides by illegal aliens on American soil [per Immigration and Customs Enforcement data] plus another 30,000+ American deaths/year from overdoses on poisonous drugs shipped across America’s porous southern border [per Center for Disease Control and Drug Enforcement Agency data]). To be absolutely blunt and clear about America’s border security threat, more Americans have died as a result of America’s porous southern border than have been killed in any American conflict or war, excepting World War II and the Civil War. Yet, HASC Socialist Democrats, blinded by their hatred for President Trump and crass love for political power over country, not only blocked ANY new, effective border security measures, they also voted to deny President Trump the use of some of the few border security powers he has under existing law to save and protect American lives.
Further dangerous weaknesses in the FY20 NDAA include, but are not limited to:
- The FY20 NDAA is significantly below President Trump’s defense budget request for Fiscal Year 2020. Socialist Democrat spending cuts include: hypersonic weapons development, ballistic missile defense, and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program— all of which are vitally important to America and the Redstone Arsenal defense community;
- The FY20 NDAA endangers American lives by making it easier to move Guantanamo Bay terrorists to American soil;
- The FY20 NDAA weakens America’s nuclear capabilities by eliminating funding for the deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons needed to deter attacks by near-peer adversaries; and,
- The FY20 NDAA takes aim at Redstone Arsenal’s Missile Defense Agency (“MDA”) by preventing MDA from developing the space-based ballistic missile intercept layer that helps protect America from nuclear missile attacks. A space-based intercept capability is likely the best, and perhaps only, opportunity America has to employ boost-phase missile defense measures for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (or hypersonic weapons) fired from nations with strong anti-access/area denial systems (including Russia and China). MDA should have the option to pursue a wide range of technologies in missile defense, and must have the flexibility to research and develop systems that work, no matter if the platform is air-based, sea-based, land-based, or space-based.
Notwithstanding that this FY20 NDAA draft has an overall detrimental effect on both America’s border security and national security, I am pleased my office helped successfully insert into the FY20 NDAA provisions beneficial to both America and Redstone Arsenal, to-wit:
- $38 million is authorized for construction of an Aircraft and Flight Equipment Building on Redstone Arsenal;
- $40 million is authorized for construction of a new air traffic control tower and airport terminal on Kwajalein Atoll (a key component of America’s missile defense assets);
- A Department of Defense report to Congress on progress made to enable accelerated integration of new missile capabilities into the Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense (AIAMD) program;
- Full funding for the development of the Army’s Precision Guidance Kit – Anti-Jam (PGK-AJ);
- A Department of Defense briefing to defense committees regarding on board vehicle power technology; and,
- A Department of Defense report (validated by MDA) to the defense committees on the conduct and results of the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) sense-off.
Other plusses include authorization of the Space Corps (popularly known as the Space Force), lifting of the prohibition on standing up U.S. Space Command, support for the MDA’s request to develop a space sensor layer to detect and track hypersonic weapon threats, and a provision ensuring the Phase 2 National Security Space Launch program remains on schedule.
It is unfortunate HASC Socialist Democrats refused to work in a bipartisan manner— as Republicans did when we held the House majority— to craft a bill that both Republicans and Democrats could support. I’m hopeful the FY20 NDAA is improved in the House floor amendment process and the eventual Senate-House compromise bill is worthy of a ‘Yes’ vote. Such is life in a House of Representatives governed by radical Socialist Democrats who too often complain that Nancy Pelosi is ‘too conservative’ to be House Speaker.
The FY 2020 NDAA approved by the House Armed Services Committee would authorize the “Space Corps” being formed. Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) spearheaded that aspect of the legislation.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn