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Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

National security over politics

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This is one reason why people are angry at Congress: the Majority party in the Senate has hijacked a bill supporting our military efforts and loaded it with its own social policy initiatives. With our nation at war; thousands of Americans putting their lives on the line for our freedom and security every day; and our military depending upon its government to provide it with necessary support; such an endeavor is simply indefensible. This misguided effort is a last gasp to score political points before the November election. That it comes at the expense of our military is a tragedy.

Every year, Congress must pass a Defense Authorization bill to authorize funding for our military efforts around the globe. One would think it's a no-brainer to simply pass the authorization and then focus on other issues like job creation -- but when an election is at stake, the Majority has defied common sense. Issues completely unrelated to our national defense, such as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," abortion, and even illegal immigration have been interjected into the bill and turned legislation we can all agree on into a game of politics.

When the debate over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rose to a boil earlier this year, the Department of Defense initiated an internal review of the policy and pledged to report its findings. To repeal the law before this review can be complete would, in the words of General George Casey, "be seen by the men and women of the Army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward." This has been our military's policy since 1993 and should not be cast aside lightly.

If that were not enough, other social policy changes have been slipped into the bill. If the Defense Authorization were to pass as is, elective abortions would be allowed in military hospitals, overturning policy that has been in place since 1995. Majority Leader Harry Reid has even indicated he will use the defense bill as a vehicle for passing amnesty for certain illegal immigrants -- the DREAM Act.

Senator Reid has defended himself by saying these initiatives are in fact related to defense spending. Yet even if that was the case, some of them have yet to even be approved by the relevant Senate committee. The DREAM Act has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, not the Armed Services Committee -- which ought to say something about how relevant it is to national defense. Little about this disingenuous effort remotely resembles a credible effort at legislating. Our responsibility to provide support for our troops has turned into a political football, with one side trying to get an unrelated wish list over the goal line before the elections.

There is a time and a place for debating domestic and social policy -- saddling it on the backs of our military men and women is not it. Exploiting our troops and everything they stand for to score political points and advance a partisan agenda is not only inappropriate, it is inexcusable.

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Sen. Mike Johanns
Sen. Mike Johanns
U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns is a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Nebraska governor and Lincoln mayor.

Address: 404 Russell, Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-4224
Fax: (202) 228-0436

You may contact Senator Johanns by emailing mike_johanns@johanns.senate.gov. If you would like to receive a response from Senator Johanns, please ensure you include your name, full address, and phone number.