U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks Thursday on the Senate floor regarding the U.S. defense industrial base:
“The loudest critics of American assistance to Ukraine tend to rest their case of three dubious claims.
“First, that somehow our support for Ukraine is a distraction from China – when in fact there are many reasons to believe the opposite.
“Second, that there is no accountability of lethal U.S. assistance – when in fact, we have unprecedented visibility into how the weapons and vehicles we’re providing Ukraine are utilized.
“And third, that somehow this whole thing is a zero-sum proposition – that support for Ukraine or European security comes at the expense of American prosperity and security. That we’re spending too much.
“I’ll discuss each of these faulty arguments in detail in the coming days. But today, I’d like to discuss this last one in particular.
“Set aside the fact – recognized by the previous Administration’s national security strategy – that, quote, ‘A strong and vital Europe is of vital importance to the United States.’
“Standing with our allies against Putin is directly and measurably strengthening the U.S. military, growing the U.S. industrial base, and supporting thousands of good-paying American jobs. The overwhelming majority of the money we have appropriated is being spent here in America. Right here in this country.
“This is especially true for the security assistance we’ve appropriated ‘for Ukraine.’ This assistance falls into two basic buckets.
“The first, smaller portion is for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. USAI for short. USAI predates the Biden Administration – it was used by the previous Administration to enhance Ukraine’s military capabilities.
“The second, larger portion isn’t even for Ukraine. It is referred to as ‘backfill’ or ‘replenishment’ money, and it is used to purchase new versions of weapons and vehicles to replace the old – sometimes very old – versions the U.S. has taken from stockpiles and warehouses and transferred to Ukraine.
“Now, the Biden Administration often announces tranches of assistance as though it’s new, direct aid to Ukraine. In fact, it is previously authorized or appropriated assistance that is only too slowly actually being dispersed.
“But in both cases, the money we’re talking about doesn’t go to Ukraine. It goes to defense manufacturing facilities all across America and supports tens of thousands of American jobs. Expanding our defense industrial capacity to better compete with China. Replenishing America’s arsenal with American weapons built by American workers.
“But don’t take my word for it. Just look at where some of these resources are going.
“Nearly $1.4 billion is buying the U.S. military new Javelin anti-tank missiles. These weapons are manufactured at facilities in Troy, Alabama, Ocala, Florida, Farmington, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona that employ hundreds or thousands of Americans.
“Another $3 billion is producing new precision rockets and Patriot missiles for our military. That work is underway at a plant in Camden, Arkansas that employs nearly 1,000 workers. Dozens of suppliers across the country are doing work to support these high-end weapons.
“Hundreds of millions of dollars in new air-to-air weapons systems bound for the U.S. military are rolling off production lines across the country – from a Massachusetts facility that employs 400 people to one in Arizona that employs 14,000. And this work is made possible by suppliers all across America, including in Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Utah, and my home state of Kentucky.
“Tens of billions of dollars. Directly invested in American military strength. Directly supporting thousands of American jobs. And expanding our defense industry’s capability to produce the weapons needed to deter adversaries like Russia and China.
“Our support to Ukraine is grinding down one of America’s biggest strategic adversaries… and showing the other one the strength of our resolve. And it’s providing western forces from NATO to Taiwan with valuable operational lessons to apply to their own defense.
“The value of that to American interests can hardly be measured simply in dollars or jobs.
“But critics of this investment cannot ignore its returns: American industry and workers are stronger for it. Our warfighters are stronger for it. And our nation is stronger for it.”