by Rep. Todd Akin, (R) Missouri, Guest Blogger
As we celebrated our nation’s birthday, North Korea launched seven missiles, and is now preparing to launch a long-range ballistic missile, just months after testing a nuclear weapon. At the same time, Iran is developing both nuclear capabilities and long range missiles, recently disguised as a “space” launch. Meanwhile in Washington, Democrats in the White House and in Congress are dramatically cutting funds from our national missile defense system. In what world does it make sense to dramatically cut funding for the only system capable of defending our nation against the threat of rogue nations with nuclear ballistic missiles?
President Obama, in his FY2010 defense budget, proposed a $1.2 billion cut to missile defense funding and halted development on our long-range interceptors in Alaska and California. When Republicans on the Armed Services Committee, led by Reps. Michael Turner and Trent Franks, tried to restore funding to missile defense, the Democrat majority voted it down along party lines. Here is a quick rundown of the amendments offered in committee during the course of our five hour debate on missile defense recently.
Rep. Michael Turner offered an amendment to continue deployment of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, which would cost $120 million. Turner proposed that we cover $80 million of that bill by using money that the Obama administration has requested to dismantle the North Korean nuclear complex. I think most will agree that the odds of the North Koreans allowing us to dismantle their nuclear program in the near future is extremely slim. I believe that using that money to continue building a system that can actually intercept North Korean or Iranian missiles is much better than putting that money into an account that will not be used. The Democrat majority on the committee defeated this amendment 35-27.
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Rep. Trent Franks offered an amendment to restore the $1.2 billion cut from missile defense by President Obama. The Democrats argued that this cut was reasonable, but in the face of Iranian and North Korean activities, any significant cut to missile defense funding seems foolish. In the last two months, we have seen Iran test its long-range missile capabilities (under the guise of a space launch) and North Korea test a nuclear weapon and launch (unsuccessfully) a long-range Taepo-Dong II missile. The North Koreans now appear to be preparing to launch yet another Taepo-Dong II. In the face of all of these activities, the Democrat majority on the Armed Services Committee voted down the Franks amendment to restore missile defense funding by a vote of 36-26. This amendment was then voted on by the full House of Representatives and again defeated along largely party lines.
There were a number of other amendments related to missile defense that we discussed, including Republican efforts to fund the European Site and the Airborne Laser, but they were all shot down by the Democrats. For the sake of our nation’s security, we should be focused on shooting down enemy missiles, not on shooting down our own missile defense system. As North Korea and Iran push forward, every member of the House of Representatives has taken a stand on missile defense. Unfortunately, it seems that the position of the Democratic majority is clear: shoot down missile defense.
The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heritage Foundation.