Mississippi News

Wicker: Notches victory In America’s military rebuild

By U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker

Democrats Should Immediately Bring NDAA to a Vote

This month, I led a group of my U.S. Senate colleagues in a successful effort to begin rebuilding the American military.

I serve as the highest-ranking Republican on the Senate committee that drafts Congress’ annual national defense bill. In that role, I introduced legislation to invest $25 billion more in the kinds of munitions, ships, submarines, and fighter planes necessary to resist the threats facing our nation. Senators from both sides of the aisle joined my plan to include the additional funding, and the bill passed our committee 22-3, near unanimous agreement.

Rebuilding America’s Dwindling Military

Immediately, we were reminded why this work is urgent. At a meeting of some of the world’s darkest minds, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a deal to help each other militarily. Their pact is just one symbol of the ways China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran are already helping one another plan and commit evil. These aggressors have never collaborated at this scale before, and America’s military is not ready to counter such a united front.

In that frightening context, our committee vote was a glimmer of hope. The challenges we face demand a once-in-a-generation investment in our armed forces, and this legislation is just the first of many steps we must take. I hope the overwhelming support for the bill is an indication that Congress realizes the need to do what is needed for our national security.

Putting Service Members First

Service members are the priority of any defense bill. This NDAA would raise pay for men and women in uniform and improve efforts to solve the military’s recruiting crisis. Too many bases and barracks have fallen into disrepair, and this legislation would help shrink that maintenance backlog.

One provision was added that I strongly oppose. Democrats included language in the bill that would force women to register for the selective service. I applaud the women who have served our nation, but I do not believe the government should force them to enlist. During the next phase of negotiations, I will fight to remove this section.

Resisting the Biden Administration’s Left-Wing Social Agenda

In last year’s NDAA, we sought to return the Pentagon to its defense mission and away from a distracting social agenda. We build on that work in this year’s legislation.

Democratic political appointees had established a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) bureaucracy in the military. Our bill would put $50 million of that money to better use, stemming the flow of narcotics streaming across the southern border.

The committee-passed bill would bar taxpayer dollars from being spent for sex-change surgeries or puberty blockers used to treat childhood gender dysphoria. If passed, the bill would also combat anti-Semitism. The Pentagon would be prevented from performing research with universities that violate the Civil Rights Act’s ban on race, color, or national origin discrimination.

Recognizing Mississippi’s Role in National Defense

Mississippi has a long tradition of valiant military service, and it also hosts industry that empowers our national defense. American service members sail on Mississippi-built ships, wield equipment and ammunition produced in our factories, fly fighter jets equipped with Mississippi-made radars, and rely on research conducted at our universities. I am optimistic that the final version of this bill will recognize our state’s contributions to American security.

Now that the NDAA has passed our committee, it is up to Senate Majority Leader Schumer to move it forward. National defense is the bedrock of the freedom, peace, and prosperity we treasure. The NDAA deserves full and immediate attention on the Senate floor.

This article is the weekly Wicker Report of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and is provided here from the Senator’s office. Any opinions expressed here are those of the writer and not necessarily those of this publication.