POLITICS: It’s not just a Ukraine-aid bill, it’s a national-security bill — and Republicans should pass it
A national-security supplemental cleared a key hurdle Sunday in the Senate, meaning it could pass this week despite some GOP opposition — though it’ll have an even tougher time in the House.
Republicans in both chambers should vote for it.
They’ve identified persistent challenges facing the country, and none will improve by rejecting the supplemental while passing it will address many.
Here are just four:
One, adversaries — China chief among them — and allies are measuring US resolve and no doubt finding America wanting.
The bill includes money to produce weapons relevant against multiple enemies: $16.1 billion will fund munitions useful in the Pacific theater and Ukraine, with some to be sold to other allies and some co-produced with Israel.
This will help the United States collaborate with allies to weaken and deter shared adversaries.
Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin did Americans a favor by showing Putin’s utter disdain for the West.
It comes from a deep well of resentment and motivates his desire to break the US-led international order. Xi Jinping’s China and the Iranian mullahs share this aim.
Two, the United States does not have a sufficient defense-industrial base.
The supplemental devotes more than 60% of its funds to American workers and companies to boost our own weapons stocks, deliver sorely needed weapons to Ukraine and expand US manufacturing capability to produce more weapons at a faster pace.
Before Russia’s February 2022 Ukraine invasion, America was woefully ill-prepared to fight a protracted war with a major power.
Manufacturing plants across the Midwest, the South, and out West are expanding, hiring more Americans and producing weapons that will be sold to allies like Israel and strengthen allies in the Pacific like Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, India.
Strong allies willing to share the burden to deter aggression should be able to buy the best weapons in the world from the United States of America.
This bill seeks to make that possible.
The country has a long way to go in addressing this shortfall, but the bill includes major improvements like $3.3 billion for submarine industrial-base expansion to get above two subs per year, which we need to bolster Chinese deterrence.
Three, Americans are struggling economically, and the government overspends.
But more than 75% of the supplemental’s spending goes directly to Americans at home and adds protections for Americans deployed in dangerous places like the Middle East.
There is no doubt the Biden administration has carried on its predecessors’ reckless spending habits; but permitting revanchist adversaries to create greater instability, shock global markets and threaten open commerce through international waters will choke American prosperity and threaten the American way of life.
The federal government must rein in spending not vital to its primary responsibility to provide for the common defense.
Four, President Biden’s policies have been weak.
Indeed, but that’s even more reason for Congress to step in the gap and lead.
Republican senators successfully added a provision requiring the Biden administration to develop a plan for Ukrainian victory and resource that strategy.
Until we’re on stronger footing internationally, until there’s a grand strategy in place to deter our enemies and lead our allies, America must invest in manufacturing and shipbuilding so we can produce the weapons we need at the speed and scale we need them.
Starving our nation of necessary investments in weapons manufacturing and starving Ukraine of weapons when it’s already rationing the ones it has will only deny the next president leverage to help end the war on terms that leave the United States in a stronger position vis- à-vis Russia.
The threats against the United States are growing.
Putting America first means making key investments in our military, bolstering the security of deployed US forces, expanding American manufacturing and remaining the arsenal of democracy for US allies much closer to the shared threats.
The national-security supplemental will help do just this.
Rebeccah L. Heinrichs is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and director of its Keystone Defense Initiative.