Weekly Republican Address: Rep. Allen West (R-FL) on President Obama’s Defense ‘Sequester’
Delivering the Weekly Republican Address, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) calls on President Obama to work with Congress to replace his dangerous defense ‘sequester,’ which is a serious threat to our national security and must be replaced. Rep. West, who served 22 years in the Army, details how the president’s ‘sequester’ would hollow out our armed forces, and outlines Republicans’ efforts to replace it with responsible spending cuts and reforms. To date, Rep. West notes, the president has opposed these good-faith efforts and failed to press his Senate allies for action. In a direct appeal to the president, Rep. West says, “Mr. President: for you – the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces – to sit idle and do nothing while this dark cloud hangs over our military, it is shameful, it is irresponsible, and it is wrong. … For the sake of our country and our future, I hope you will do the right thing, sir, and work with us to eliminate this threat so we can confront the grave threats to freedom around the globe, to us and our allies.”
NOTE: The Weekly Republican Address is embargoed until 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, September 15, 2012. The audio is available here, and video of the address will be available here to view and here to download. A full transcript follows:
“Hello, I’m United States Representative and Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, from the great state of Florida.
“This week, the Republican-led House of Representatives continued to focus on jobs – and removing government barriers that make it harder to create jobs, such as the small business tax hike President Obama has proposed that threatens our already struggling economy. The House also took action to address a serious threat to our national security, which is what I’d like to discuss with you today.
“For all the coverage of Election Day, there’s another date looming – January the 2nd – that has serious consequences for our nation’s security. On that day – if the government does not act – automatic, across-the-board spending cuts will take effect, cuts that would reduce funding for our national defense by as much as 10 percent.
“I spent 22 years in active duty service in the United States Army and served in several combat zones. I cannot understate the amount of damage these cuts would do to our military. They would essentially hollow out our armed forces. What that means is, we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915, and the smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the modern United States Air Force. Leon Panetta, the Secretary of Defense, has said, and I quote, that ‘cuts of this magnitude … would be devastating to defense … programs.’
“Now the good news is, the Republican-led House of Representatives has approved a responsible plan to replace these ‘devastating’ cuts. The bad news is, the people’s House is the ONLY part of our government that has acted to eliminate this threat to our national security. The Senate, a body controlled by the president’s party, has done nothing. And the president himself has opposed or disregarded every attempt we’ve made to work with him on a solution.
“President Obama’s failure to lead is inexcusable on its face, but what makes it even more so is the fact that this ‘sequester’ was his administration’s idea in the first place. You see, last year, the president wanted to avoid making the tough choices necessary to get our economy moving again and deal with our crushing debt. He didn’t want to deal with the issue again before his re-election campaign, so the White House created this dangerous ‘sequester’ as an escape hatch.
“Dodging his responsibility is how the ‘sequester’ came about, so it is no surprise the president is doing the exact same thing now.
“In May, he threatened to veto legislation passed by the House that would replace his ‘sequester’ with responsible spending cuts and reforms. And the president’s Senate did nothing.
“So the House came back this week and passed a bill I sponsored that requires the president to finally send Congress a legitimate plan to replace his ‘sequester.’ Because while the president may not like our ideas, he has a responsibility to put forward his own and to press the Senate allies of his party for action. At the very least, this is an opportunity to find common ground. Yet, before the House even started to debate my bill, the president threatened to veto it. One must simply ask: why?
“Look at the week we have just been through. Consider the stark, horrific reminders that freedom remains under siege by forces who relish terror and violence over freedom and free expression. Remember how critical it is that the United States projects strength, that we remain vigilant and resolute in the defense of our liberties and way of life.
“Since the purpose of this address is to respond to President Obama, allow me to say this to him directly, as an elected representative of the people, a career soldier and a concerned citizen:
“Mr. President: for you –the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces – to sit idle and do nothing while this dark cloud hangs over our military, it is shameful, it is irresponsible, and it is wrong. It is dead wrong. In your nomination acceptance speech, you stated your goal was to have the strongest military the world has ever known. You have proven this promise to the American people is nothing more than empty rhetoric. All of this as a bargaining chip to raise taxes.
“For the sake of our country and our future, I hope you will do the right thing, sir, and work with us to eliminate this threat so we can confront the grave threats to freedom around the globe, to us and our allies.
“It is because of these threats that America must continue to fund its military and support its Armed Forces to the fullest extent. The lives of all Americans depend on it. As do the memories of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the public servants who perished with him this week in the Middle East. Please take a moment this weekend to pray for their loved ones. And for the brave warriors of our Armed Forces, the men and women, my brothers in arms that I served with.
“Steadfast and Loyal."