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VIDEO: Blunt Highlights Key Missouri & National Defense Priorities in Defense Funding Bill

Blunt: “We Have to Be Sure that Our Service Members Have the Training, They Have the Equipment, and They Have the Support They Need to Carry Out Their Mission”

August 16, 2018

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to support the FY2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Act.  Blunt noted that the bill provides the largest pay raise for our service members in nearly 10 years, and includes investments important to Whiteman Air Force Base, Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, Fort Leonard Wood, and Missouri National Guard Units, as well as multi-year procurement authority for F/A-18 Super Hornets, which are manufactured in St. Louis.

Following are Excerpts from Blunt’s Remarks:

“Many of our colleagues, I've seen over the years, are prepared to debate forever about how we need to spend more money on defense, until it comes time to vote on the bill that includes more money for defense. This bill does that. And frankly, I think it's the most important of our responsibilities. The defense of the country, the determination that that is a principle role of the federal government, is only ensured when we provide the money to do that. We need to be sure that we provide for those who serve in uniform, those who serve us, what they need to carry out their mission. …

“I was pleased to vote for this bill as a member of the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations, pleased to vote for it as a member of the full Appropriations Committee, and I look forward to voting for it as the debate is ended, though I also look forward to the full debate. …

“This defense funding bill provides a $20 billion increase for defense and supports the largest pay increase for those who serve us, those who serve us and defend us, in over a decade. This bill prioritizes resources for equipment and training to ensure our troops have every possible advantage on the battlefield. …

“Missouri has a number of military installations and those installations and people who work at those installations, civilian and military, really provide a great part of our nation's defense. Whiteman Air Force Base, Rosecrans National Guard Facility, Fort Leonard Wood, the Missouri National Guard Units, the AVCRAD repair center in Springfield, Missouri, my hometown. People who work there have a big stake in our country, and we have a big stake in them as we do in bases all over the United States.

“Certainly Senator Shelby, the chairman of the committee, and Senator Durbin, the ranking member of the Defense Committee, have crafted a bill that makes crucial investments, really across the board, from Army end strength increases to important investments in the B-2, and the A-10, and the B-21, the C-130 programs, and others that are essential to the infrastructure of the military and the very infrastructure itself. The defense facilities, the Army ammunition plants that haven't been changed very much since World War II, have some update potential in this bill.

“This bill is good news for those who serve at Missouri military bases. It's good news for those who work as civilians at those bases. And it's also good news for the many Missourians that are part of the defense industry. …

“This bill includes multiyear procurement authority for the F/A-18 Super Hornets. These are manufactured in St. Louis. Year after year, the Navy has been … including them at the top of their unfunded requirement list, I assume hoping the Congress would first look at that list once they decided what else they could do. This is something that Senator Durbin from Illinois, across the river from the Boeing facility, and I have worked on in the committee to ensure that that unfunded request was usually met. But what this bill does, is because the Navy has asked for it as part of their long-term structure, we’re for the first time in sometime, making multiyear commitments to this plane that's an important part of many flying packages that we have.

“Additionally, the bill provides research funding that's badly needed to counter threats from China, threats from Russia, huge investments on their part, at least some, using some of the things that they have taken from us, taken intellectual property that we have designed in our aircraft and other things, and then taking their money to see how far they can get ahead of us, basing our technology in some cases, as the foundation for what they're trying to do and then making major efforts to try to get ahead of us in things like hypersonics, directed energy, artificial intelligence, cyber infiltration and cyber warfare.

“This bill looks at all of those and says we're not going to let other countries who are adversaries of ours in this fight for freedom around the world, we're not going to let them have the advantage. We are going to continue to do everything we can to maintain the advantage. We have to have technological superiority. It's been one of the great things we've been able to do for those willing to serve. But we have to be sure that our service members have the training, they have the equipment, and they have the support they need to carry out their mission. That is my top priority. I think it's the top priority of the federal government.”

CLICK HERE To Watch Senator Blunt’s Remarks

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