U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Ukraine and national defense:
“Senate Republicans have spent months focused on the need for a strong, bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act and robust funding for our Armed Forces.
“Defending our homeland, deterring future threats, and supporting our allies and partners should not be last-minute low priorities.
“They’re fundamental duties if we want to remain the strongest power in the world. And investing in strength today protects our country, our servicemembers, and the American taxpayer tomorrow.
“Take, for example, Ukraine.
“For nearly a year now, the free people of a sovereign nation have stood firm and battled against brutal and lawless aggression.
“The Ukrainians’ brave stand has been made possible in part because the United States and a number of other countries have realized that supporting their self-defense directly serves our own interests.
“Europe together constitutes America’s largest trading partner. Instability in Europe poses a direct threat to the countless American producers who sell to our friends across the Atlantic. Further huge disruptions to European markets would only add to the inflationary challenges that Democrats’ spending has caused us here at home.
“What’s more, a successful Russian invasion would embolden the entire club of anti-American thug regimes to take bolder and more brazen steps toward further conflict, including direct threats to American lives.
“Every day Russia spends on the back foot in Ukraine degrades its own ability to wage further wars and dramatically changes the cost-benefit calculus for others who might contemplate similar violence.
“Continuing support for Ukraine is the popular mainstream view that stretches across the ideological spectrum.
“On my side of the aisle, for example, the former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said recently that supporting Ukraine ‘fully and completely’ is in the best interests of the United States.
“The top foreign policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, James Carafano, has spoken out forcefully about the need for continued military aid.
“So has former Secretary of State Pompeo, former Vice President Pence, and virtually every other leading national security official from the previous Administration.
“Now, while the conflict has exposed serious weaknesses in Russia’s ability to wage conventional war, it has also exposed shortcomings in the West, particularly with our defense industrial bases.
“Our European friends who’d treated themselves to holidays from history after the Cold War — who presumed a new normal of stability and security and shifted spending disproportionately into domestic programs — have received a harsh wake-up call. They are rushing to reinvest more in their own defenses.
“Some politicians here in America fell victim to that same lullaby.
“Now, fortunately, supplying the specific kinds of American armaments that Ukraine needs does not cut our readiness in other important regions, such as the Pacific.
“China and its neighbors are watching the conflict in Ukraine closely, and the CCP would be delighted if Ukraine fell to Russia.
“But the long lead times to replenish what we are sending still provide us with a sober reminder.
“We know for a fact that the world’s foremost military and economic superpower can and should both produce all the capabilities that we need for ourselves and serve as freedom’s arsenal for our friends at the same time.
“We just need to organize our resources and make critical, overdue investments in our defense industrial capacity.
“That’s why the National Defense Authorization Act we’ll take up soon provides multi-year procurement authority for longer-term certainty, planning, and efficiency. It authorizes significant investments in modernizing our forces and capabilities.
“But following through on these promises also requires that we pass robust appropriations. I made that clear at last week’s briefing with Biden Administration officials.
“And I’ll say it again:
“Providing for the common defense is a fundamental governing responsibility. It is not extra credit.
“Our Democratic colleagues will not receive a goodie bag of domestic spending in exchange for fulfilling this solemn duty.”