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Joni Ernst: Defense bill protects the homeland and supports U.S. servicemembers.

Since John F. Kennedy was president, Congress has annually passed a bipartisan defense bill – the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – outlining our national security priorities. During the past two years, President Biden’s doctrine of appeasement has failed to meet growing threats around the globe, and the need for Congressional oversight to ensure military strength has greatly increased.

As a combat veteran and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I worked hard to advance a bill that focused on standing with our foreign partners, ending energy dependence on our adversaries, and providing for our men and women in uniform. I am pleased that this year’s NDAA includes several of my hard-fought efforts to protect our homeland and support our servicemembers.

STANDING WITH OUR PARTNERS

Ukraine’s military and its people have demonstrated inspiring resilience following Russia’s unjust invasion nearly ten months ago. The United States has rightly supported Ukraine’s self-defense by training and equipping our partner. Through my efforts in this year’s NDAA, the United States can upgrade its support by training Ukrainian forces to demine the Black Sea.

In the Middle East, following two years of appeasement and self-handicapping in the face of Iran’s radical, Islamist murderers who torment innocent women, chant death to America, and remain the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, American security demands that we impose maximum pressure and contain a regime likely only a week away from nuclear breakout.

Iran terrorizes U.S. forces and foreign partners while fomenting regional instability. Earlier this year, along with my fellow Abraham Accords Caucus co-chairs, I put forward an effort to unite our Middle Eastern partners against Iran’s common threat through an integrated air and missile defense network. This bipartisan and bicameral effort enables our partners to counter Iran’s malign regional activities.

ENDING OUR DEPENDENCE ON ADVERSARIES

In order to combat our enemies and meet our modern-day defense needs, America must curb its reliance on foreign adversaries. An America that is marshaling its own critical resources is resilient against its enemies. That’s why I secured in this defense bill an effort to rebuild the National Defense Stockpile by procuring critical minerals for our weapons systems from U.S. and allied sources. We cannot continue obtaining anything from a supply chain that moves through our adversaries, and that includes electric vehicles.

In this NDAA, , I blocked the Pentagon’s misguided climate policy to switch the military’s non-tactical vehicles to an all-electric fleet – a fleet that would be unconscionably produced by child and slave labor. That’s an expensive investment for an unreliable product sourced through a CCP-controlled and immoral supply chain.

PROVIDING FOR OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM

Our first duty is providing for the brave men and women in uniform. I am proud that this year’s NDAA gives our troops a well-deserved pay raise and a number of improved benefits. This includes my effort to standardize how the military services treat and diagnose traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress. We have an important charge to care for those who wear the scars of sacrifice, whether their wounds are visible or not. This measure enables the Pentagon to better care for our heroes.

Finally, after my urging, and that of my Republican colleagues in the House and Senate, this year’s NDAA stripped the military COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which has previously caused 8,000 servicemembers to be discharged, including 51 Iowa National Guardsmen. As the military faces a major recruiting crisis across all services, shrinking the number of servicemembers puts our national security at risk. This was the right move for our military readiness.

Congress’ constitutional responsibility is providing for the common defense. While we can be divided on so many issues, I’m glad to see a bipartisan NDAA pass Congress for the 62nd year in a row.

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