U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan Serving Wisconsin's 1st District

U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan Serving Wisconsin's 1st District

U.S. House of Representatives

Defense & Homeland Security

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Defense & Homeland Security

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As your Representative, keeping America safe remains my first priority. I remain committed to ensuring that the federal government provides our military with the necessary resources to accomplish the missions that they have to protect our nation from those who wish to do us harm.

Homeland Security in the House-passed Budget

The first job of the federal government is securing the safety and liberty of its citizens from threats at home and abroad. Whether defeating the terrorists who attacked this country on September 11, 2001, deterring the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or battling insurgents who would harbor terrorist networks that threaten American lives, the men and women of the United States’ military have performed superbly. The House-passed budget resolution provides for the best equipment, training, and compensation for their continued success.

Since President Obama entered office, his Administration has switched from a strategy-driven budget—a budget that identifies the missions of the military and bases its funding request on the costs associated with accomplishing these missions—to a budget-driven strategy—a budget that sets funding levels and then asks the military to do what it can with the limited resources.  Without military readiness or a strong defense posture, the United States will not be able to retain its leadership role in the global order.  U.S. military superiority is not a given, and attempts to solve our nation’s security problems through defense budget cuts is both risky and reckless.  It is crucial that our Armed Forces retain an operational and technological edge.

Repeated reductions in the defense budget are taking place in the context of an international environment that remains exceptionally challenging. In his testimony on the intelligence community’s annual worldwide threat assessment, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that he had ‘‘not experienced a time when we’ve been beset by more crises and threats around the globe.’’ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey has testified that ‘‘our current security challenges are more formidable and complex than those we faced in downturns following war in Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War. There is no foreseeable ‘peace dividend’ on our horizon. The security environment is increasingly competitive and dangerous.’’

The House-passed budget seeks to restore defense budgets to the levels dictated by the national-security interests of the nation. It rejects the President’s additional cuts to national security and ensures that the men and women serving in harm’s way have the best training and equipment in the world.

Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Appropriations

Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, former Chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, introduced H.R. 4435, the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2015, on April 9, 2014.  This bill passed the House with my support on May 22 by a bipartisan vote of 325 to 98.  The Senate version of the NDAA for FY2015 was approved on June 2 but was not considered by the full Senate.  To ensure that the legislation was passed by the end of the calendar year, portions of each version were merged for consideration by both chambers of Congress through a series of negotiations.

The agreement resulted in H.R. 3979, the fifty-third consecutive NDAA. This resolution authorizes and prioritizes funding for the Department of Defense and other select national security programs within the Department of Energy for FY 2015.  In compliance with the House budget, the NDAA authorizes more than $521 billion in spending for national defense.  Additionally, it authorizes $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations and $5.1 billion to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  On December 4, 2014, the negotiated version of the NDAA for FY2015 came before the House for a vote and was passed—with my support—by a bipartisan vote of 300 to 119.  The Senate passed the NDAA for FY2015 on December 12, 2014, and President Obama signed the agreement into law on December 19, 2014.

Congress must never forget its promises to our troops, our veterans at home, and the families of all who serve. Our troops overseas must be provided with the tools they need to successfully complete their mission.  Further, we must also work to ensure our veterans and the families of all service members receive the care, and services they need in a timely, convenient, and efficient manner.  Keeping these concerns in mind, the NDAA for FY 2015 enables the President to use his authority to give the troops a 1 percent pay increase in 2015.  It rejects the Pentagon’s request for a 5 percent reduction in basic allowance for housing (BAH) and instead reduces it by 1 percent.  The congressionally-mandated Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission did not report back to Congress on TRICARE reform prior to the consideration of the NDAA for FY2015.  As a result, the agreement approved a $3 increase in select pharmacy co-pays rather than the $10-$15 increase suggested by the Pentagon. Additionally, the resolution includes bipartisan reforms to enhance the prevention of sexual assault, the prosecution of offenders, and support for victims.  It also preserves the religious freedom provisions for chaplains and servicemen to include beliefs and expression of beliefs.

Fiscal Year 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations

It is imperative that our government make the necessary investments to protect our nation against threats of terrorism, to ensure that our law enforcement is well equipped, and to recover from natural disasters.  Representative Harold Rogers introduced H.R. 240, the House version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill for FY2015 on January 9, 2015.   The bill would fund DHS at $39.7 billion in discretionary spending through September 30, 2015.  This is a $400 million increase over the FY2014 levels to ensure that our nation’s security needs are being met and that Americans are safe.

The DHS legislation would prioritize funding for customs, border security and border patrol agents.  To further reinforce border surveillance and to finance more immigration detention beds for illegal immigrants, H.R. 240 would authorize increased appropriations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement programs including investigations to combat human trafficking, child exploitation, cyber-crime, and drug smuggling, and to expand visa vetting capabilities. The Transportation Security Administration would have the necessary resources to ensure successful security and intelligence functions.  Cuts to the U.S. Coast Guard and funds for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund and first responder grants are prevented in the language of the bill.  Importantly, H.R. 240 would require DHS to submit comprehensive plans to Congress to increase transparency and public oversight over its use of taxpayer dollars.

Our government agencies must work together to guarantee the safety of Americans.  DHS was operating on a continuing resolution set to expire on February 27, 2015; however,  the House acted to ensure that the Department has the funding it needs to carry out its homeland security priorities and initiatives.  H.R. 240 was approved with my support on January 14 by a bipartisan vote of 236 to 191.  The bill has been referred to the Senate where it awaits further action.

The Bipartisan Budget Act and FY2015 Consolidated Appropriations

On October 15, 2013, Senator Patty Murray and I stood up in our respective chambers to offer a motion to create a bicameral conference committee to negotiate a federal budget by December 13, 2013.  Rather than continuing the trend of budgeting by brinkmanship with short-term spending bills, Senator Murray and I recognized the need for long-term bipartisan solutions to our nation’s most pressing fiscal problems.  On October 16, 2013, the motion to go to conference was adopted by unanimous consent in the House and Senate.

After nearly two months of deliberations among the members of the bicameral conference committee, Senator Patty Murray and I introduced the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 on December 10, 2013.  This is the first time since 1986 that a divided Congress has produced a bipartisan budget resolution.  The Bipartisan Budget Act will provide $63 billion in sequester relief—split evenly between defense programs and other domestic priorities—in exchange for over $80 billion in savings elsewhere in the budget, resulting in over $20 billion in deficit reduction, all without raising taxes.  Additionally, it preserves 92 percent of the Budget Control Act’s (BCA) sequester cuts, or approximately $770 billion of the original BCA sequester savings, but does so by cutting spending in a smarter way.  It eliminates waste by ending the distribution of government checks to criminals and the deceased, puts an end to favoritism by cutting corporate welfare, and it makes real reforms to some of the true problems of autopilot spending. 

With the Bipartisan Budget Agreement signed into law, members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees introduced the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The legislation combined the 11 individual spending bills that typically fund programs within the government with a continuing resolution to keep DHS operating at current levels until a separate spending measure is passed.  In compliance with the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, the bill provides $1.013 trillion for the operations of the federal government. $554 billion was authorized for the Department of Defense, including $64 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding to support our troops in the field with additional funding provided to combat ISIS, to carry out the train and equip program for our Iraqi allies, and to counter Russian aggression.  Additionally, the bill prohibits the transfer or release of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into the United States. 

The Consolidated Appropriations bill, H.R. 83, was passed by the House on December 11, 2014—with my support—by a vote of 219 to 206.  On December 13, 2014, it was passed by the Senate, and on December 16, 2014, President Obama signed the Consolidation Appropriations Bill into law.

The Fiscal Year 2016 House-Passed Budget Resolution

On March 23, the House approved – with my support – H.Con.Res. 27, the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Resolution. This plan encourages greater government efficiency and accountability while shifting the focus from Washington towards American families, businesses, innovators, and local communities. It will bring spending under control, bolster our national security, and balance the budget within ten years. Specifically, this budget will cut $5.5 trillion in spending, call for a fairer and simpler tax code, and put an end to the annual deficits that impair our economy.  This budget resolution would also fully repeal the President’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act, including all of its taxes, regulations, and mandates. It strengthens Medicare through necessary structural improvements, eliminates the “double dipping” of Disability Insurance and Unemployment Insurance, and helps to protect the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.  Additionally, its language supports current oversight efforts of our nation’s VA medical centers to ensure that the resources provided to our veterans are sufficient.

To ensure that our military may confront the growing threats that the U.S. and our allies face, an amendment to the reported budget resolution increased authority for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) by $2 billion, from $94 billion to $96 billion in Fiscal Year 2016. The amendment also struck a deficit-neutral reserve fund for the OCO account, which requires offsets for the use of up to $20.5 billion in additional OCO funds above $73.5 billion.  Even with the increase in overall budget authority and resulting outlays, the resolution remains in balance through Fiscal Year 2024 and thereafter.

Israel

America has no better friend in the Middle East than the nation of Israel. Not only is Israel the region’s only fully functioning democracy – with a government based on popular consent and the rule of law – but it is also a valuable ally against Islamic extremism and terrorism. Our shared democratic values and national interests are supported by maintaining a close friendship with Israel. Americans also have a strong interest in Israel achieving a lasting peace with its neighbors—including both the Iranians and Palestinians.

There are many differing opinions about how the conflict between Israel and Palestine can be resolved. However, I believe at least one thing is clear: we cannot advocate for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that jeopardizes Israel’s safety or legitimizes terrorism. Hamas, which is one of the two major Palestinian political factions, is an Islamist terrorist group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence, and deems Osama Bin Laden to be a “martyr.” Real peace will require Palestinians to recognize that Israel has a right to exist, even as it will require two states for the two peoples.

Further, the importance of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear capability cannot be overstated. Should Iran become nuclear capable, not only would U.S. non-proliferation objectives be undermined, but other countries in the region could perceive their national security to be dependent on the attainment of nuclear weapons as well. To express my support for the United States’ commitment to Israel’s defense during the 113th Congress, I signed on as a cosponsor of H.R.850, the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act, which would have expanded U.S. efforts to impose sanctions on Iran, and H.R.938, the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, which would have dramatically strengthened the relationship between Israel and the United States.  Although both bills passed the House, neither was considered in Senate before the end of the previous Congress.  As events continue to unfold, I will closely monitor developments in both Palestine and Iran while maintaining an unwavering commitment to the defense of Israel.

Iraq

On October 21, 2011, President Obama announced the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and trainers from Iraq.  Since that time, violence in Iraq has been on the rise due to vulnerabilities caused by ungoverned territories and political corruption.  After years of disrupted and isolated operations, leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq regrouped into a coalition known as ISIS which now occupies roughly one third of the country.  This group embraces an extremist interpretation of Islamic governance, calls for a caliphate, renounces international norms, and threatens to destabilize the Middle East with its widespread terror.

We must remain vigilant to ensure that the gains made in the hard-won war in Iraq do not slip away.  In September, 2014, Haider Al-Abadi was elected Prime Minister of Iraq.  He immediately enforced encouraging changes among the country’s military personnel and established more inclusive policies for Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish minority populations.  His government requested international assistance to combat the threat of ISIS, and Congress authorized an Iraq Train and Equip Fund to provide training, weapons, and gear to Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Security Forces.  Efforts to eliminate these threats of extremism remain vital strategic priorities for the United States and the rest of the free world.  You can trust that the safety of American troops in the field continues to be my most important consideration.

Afghanistan

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States made a commitment to defeat those responsible for the horrific attack. As part of the broader war on terror, the U.S. military has effectively engaged our enemies in Afghanistan and employed counter-insurgency tactics to combat current threats to our national security. This military strategy necessitates enough troops on the ground to clear and secure areas, move onto subsequent locations while maintaining a level of operable safety. After deploying the requisite number of troops to Afghanistan in 2009, the President had announced the withdrawal of roughly half of the U.S. forces during 2015 without regard to the situation on the ground, leaving only a “residual force” combined of U.S. and NATO trainers and mentors, along with U.S. counterterrorism forces. The deteriorated situation in Iraq emphasizes the risks of a hasty and deadline-driven withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In a major pivot from his original plan, President Obama announced on March 24th that he is halting the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan and that we will maintain 9,800 troops through the end of 2015. They will help to protect the U.S. embassy and coordinate with the Afghan National Security Forces to help combat the Taliban and other extremist forces. The specific trajectory of a troop drawdown in 2016 will be decided later this year. As the result of repeated recommendations of Afghan and coalition military commanders, Defense Secretary Carter announced that the U.S. will also provide funding for Afghan security forces to sustain 352,000 personnel through 2017. This will send a signal to Afghan citizens currently working with our troops to quell violence that we remain committed to the mission to strengthen the long-term diplomatic, development and reconstruction efforts in the area.

On May 1, 2011, our military and intelligence community realized the goal of eliminating the leader of Al Qaeda and the ultimate mastermind of 9/11. Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs at a compound in Abbottabada, Pakistan, and his body was buried at sea. After years of dedicated efforts across two administrations, his death served a major blow to Al Qaeda and marked a turning point in the ongoing War on Terrorism. I congratulate the brave men and women who have played a role in successfully serving justice to the murderer who orchestrated the deaths of thousands of Americans on September 11.

I believe that the continued engagement in Afghanistan is necessary, and demands careful considerations for the safety of both our Armed Forces and citizens.  Our own security at home depends on denying Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups a safe haven to operate from abroad such as Afghanistan.  I continue to support providing our soldiers with the best possible equipment so they are able to complete their mission safely, effectively and on time so they can return to their families as soon as possible.

Supporting Our Troops

We must not forget that we are a nation at war. The brave troops who serve our country worldwide have made and continue to make tremendous sacrifices on behalf of our nation. I am grateful for their service, and am dedicated to ensuring that they are provided with the necessary resources to successfully complete their missions and return to their families as quickly as possible. Congress must also work to ensure that the families of these courageous individuals are thanked and cared for while their loved ones are away. As Congress continues to consider further legislation with regard to these issues, please rest assured that I will not lose sight of the effects that our national policy has on the lives of our troops and their families and our national security.

Additional Information

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