Weekly Column

In today's political climate, it's easier to find stories about partisan bickering and rancor than to hear about instances in which members of Congress, regardless of their political party, come together to pass legislation. Fortunately, there still remain some issues which transcend partisan politics, and, for the most part, our nation's defense is one of them. Last week, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, annual legislation to reauthorize our nation's military programs and the funding necessary to support them.

Since 2011, we've capped spending on our military. While the intention -- to lower the budget deficit -- was noble, the across-the-board implementation of these limits was poorly handled and directly harmed our nation's military.

How, you might ask? For starters, it dramatically diminished the ability of our military to fight and face the world's many dangers. The evidence is pretty compelling. The Army and Navy are the smallest they've been since WWII. Less than half of the Navy's planes can fly due to lack of maintenance, and because of a lack of ships, we're having to keep our sailors at sea longer due to stretched deployments, which also reduces the time for maintenance on our still functional aircraft. The Air Force is the smallest it's been in its entire history and has a shortage of over 1,500 pilots and 4,000 mechanics. I could go on, but you probably get the point.

The United States has the most capable and respected military in the world. Through the strength of our military, we are able to keep peace both at home and abroad. However, the projection of our power, which is meant to secure not only our interests but also the interests of our allies and other free nations as well, has a cost. In order to preserve the peace and combat challengers like Iran, Russia and North Korea, who threaten to destabilize it, you need to adequately fund the military, but we haven't done that in years.

The House-passed NDAA actively works to address this decline in our military's readiness to defend America's interests. It provides significantly more money to make sure our troops' equipment is not only maintained but safe for use. It also allocates more money to our procurement programs to purchase new equipment from tanks to aircraft to ships and additional funds for research and development to make sure our military stays at the forefront when it comes to technological capabilities.

The NDAA also outlines our defense priorities. It requires the Department of Defense and the president to perform a comprehensive assessment of the North Korean nuclear threat and to outline the wide array of options to neutralize it. It also enhances funding for our missile defense programs to ensure the homeland is secure from any ballistic missile attack. Second, it directs the Department of Defense to develop a strategy to counter ISIS, as well as our long-term objectives in the region. Of equal importance is the pay raise the NDAA provides to our service members. Under the House's legislation, our troops would receive a 2.4% pay raise, the largest they would receive in years.
I am proud to have voted in support of the NDAA. In an increasingly dangerous world, it is of paramount importance that our military has the resources needed to face the challenges before us and that are troops are appropriately compensated and have the safe, functioning equipment and tools they deserve. This year's NDAA will work to roll back the losses in readiness we have sustained the past several years and ensure our military remains the world's greatest fighting force.

The Renacci Report

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