One of my most sacred duties as your representative in Congress is to “provide for the common defense” as the Constitution has lain out. I believe this is more important than ever because today America faces a wide array of serious challenges around the world. We are facing the rise of Radical Islam in the Middle East, not to mention serious threats from Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China. These are all challenges that the U.S. must rise up and meet in order to protect and defend freedom – freedom we should never take for granted. We cannot allow those who wish us harm to doubt our resolve. We are a peace-loving nation, but we are also brave nation committed to the defense of – and individual freedom for – our citizens. As President Ronald Regan once said, the best way to secure peace is through American strength.
To learn about my stance on specific National Security issues and my actions to address them, click on a bullet to jump down to that portion of the page.
As I quoted Reagan above, “the best way to secure peace is through American strength.” Put into practice, this means that in order to ensure American strength and success, our Armed Forces NEED adequate funding so they can carry out their mission safely and effectively. That is why in December of 2016 I voted in support of S. 2943, the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House 375-34.
This bipartisan legislation provides critical funding for our military as well as pay and benefits for our troops. As a 29-year Air Force veteran and POW for nearly seven years, I am proud to have voted to secure that funding. And you can rest assured that I will continue to stand strong with our troops, those on the front lines, and their families.
Also, in case you missed it, before the vote took place I took to the House floor during the debate to speak in support of our servicemen and women.
As a 29-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a POW for nearly seven years, I am proud to have voted to secure that funding. And you can rest assured that I will continue to stand strong with our troops, those on the front lines, and their families.
Radical Islam has emerged as a major and serious threat to Western civilization since the end of the Cold War. The ideals that we hold dear and believe to be self-evident, such as religious freedom, individual freedom, and the equality of men, are abhorred by these extremists. As we witnessed on September 11, 2001, those motivated by this ideology of hate are bent on the destruction of America and the Western World.
After the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, America brought the fight to the terrorists. We are in the midst of a philosophical and global war on terror. We cannot become complacent. We must view the threat of radical Islam realistically – our very existence depends upon it. It is imperative we remain vigilant and on the offense by defeating those who seek to do us harm. We do this by providing for a strong defense to that our troops can effectively carry out their missions.
I routinely sit down with the Air Force Chief of Staff to discuss the state of military readiness, and his resounding message has been that cuts in defense under Obama clearly had a negative impact - which is no surprise to any troop or veteran. Fortunately, my colleagues and I recently voted to pass defense legislation that would provide a much-needed boost for our military. I am also pleased by President Trump's commitment to rebuilding our military and providing for our troops and veterans. Rest assured that I’ll be working to keep America’s military strong – and our freedom secure.
Obama’s Troop Withdrawal and Resulting ISIS Emergence
U.S. political influence in Iraq has eroded considerably since our withdrawal of troops at the end of 2011, and with that erosion we have seen parts of Iraq overrun by ISIS and influenced by Iran. In the summer of 2014 we witnessed the violent emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) throughout the Middle East. This group of Sunni militants (a group even more fanatic than Al Qaeda) is seeking to violently create an Islamic state, and it poses a direct threat to Americans and our democratic way of life. What’s more, as they continue to seize control of cities, they are capturing military hardware and money. This is not a “JV team,” as former President Obama had initially dismissed them in early 2014.
In response to ISIS’s advances in Iraq, former President Obama began launching air strikes against the group in August 2014. Then in September 10, 2014, Obama spoke before the nation laying out his anti-ISIS “strategy” as well as his call for congressional support. And yet over the last several years, we have seen that Obama's strategy hasn't worked.
I am pleased by President Trump's commitment to defeating ISIS. Our Commander-in-Chief has recognized these realities and has begun to shape a more forceful plan to defeat ISIS! Again, as a 29-year combat veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I am committed to working closely with the Trump Administration to ensure that our troops have a strategy for success to defeat ISIS once and for all.
ISIS/Radical Islam Attacks: At Home and Abroad
Toward the end of 2015, we witnessed the horrible and troubling reach of ISIS. We saw suicide bombings in Beirut, a Russian airline bombing in Egypt, and the massive coordinated attacks in Paris. Not to mention the attempted attack right in our own backyard in Garland.
The fight against terrorism is global, and we MUST destroy ISIS before they can successfully carry out an attack here at home. After all, these Islamist jihadists have made it clear their next target will be America. In fact the San Bernardino terrorists appear to have been inspired by ISIS. We MUST remain vigilant.
Protecting Our Border
In order to protect America from ISIS, we must first and foremost secure our border…because make no mistake, our border is not secure! What’s worse is that former President Obama refused to secure it and even refused to enforce U.S. immigration laws.
In case you didn’t know, I recently visited our border in the Rio Grande Valley region, and I saw first-hand the challenges and vulnerabilities our law enforcement officials face. I am pleased by President Trump's commitment to securing the border and ensuring that U.S. immigration laws are being upheld. These are critical components of our national security. Please know that I am committed to doing everything I can to protect our homeland.
As a 29-year Air Force veteran and former POW for nearly seven years, it pains me to think any serviceman or woman would abandon their post – abandon their country and their military family. Unfortunately, that appears to be the case with Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who went missing from his military post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured a short time later by Taliban forces that held him for nearly five years. While military hearings have been underway to investigate desertion allegations, what is absolutely clear is that Bergdahl did NOT serve our country with “honor and distinction,” as former National Security Advisor Susan Rice stated.
What’s worse is that on May 31, 2014, former President Obama set a dangerous precedent when he chose to procure the release of Bergdahl in exchange for five high-level prisoners being held at our military prison in Guantanamo Bay. He did so without notifying Congress, and on December 10, 2015, the House Armed Services Committee issued its 108-page report, which found that the Obama Administration did indeed break the law. What’s more, “key Defense Department officials who might have raised red flags on the swap for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl were left out of the decision-making process.”
By negotiating with terrorists the Obama Administration in effect put a price on the head of each Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine serving abroad in defense of freedom. Moreover, U.S. intelligence officials now suspect that at least one of these released detainees has attempted to return to the battlefield against America.
On June 9, 2014 I sent an open letter to my fellow Congressmen expressing my outrage at Obama’s deeply troubling and worrisome action. Our former Commander-in-Chief compromised the long-held principle that America does not negotiate with terrorists. This is a principle that has made our nation and the world a safer place. Obama’s actions were wrong and dangerous! America and our men and women in uniform want, need, and deserve better. That said, I think it’s important to honor the real heroes in this situation – the servicemen and women who DO serve our country faithfully. Former President Obama and his Administration owe their deepest and most heart-felt apology to the troops who risked their lives trying to rescue Bergdahl.
A nuclear Iran poses a significant threat to U.S. national security interests at home and abroad, as well as for the interests of our allies around the world. Despite sanctions imposed unilaterally by the United States and collectively by the United Nations, Iran has continuously undermined U.S. national security interests in the Middle East and has repeatedly ignored international demands to stop its uranium enrichment program.
What’s worse is former President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran will jeopardize the safety, stability, and security of the Middle East, and the world. Make no mistake, Iran is our enemy. To this day, Iran chants “Death to America!” This regime has the blood of our service members on its hands. In 2015, I voted against this disastrous Iran deal.
The most fundamental question I asked before casting my vote was this: Will this deal prevent a nuclear Iran? Having gone through the deal, I will tell you the answer to that question is a resounding NO. This deal does not allow for anywhere, anytime inspections. It does not make Iran come clean on its past efforts. It does not stop Iran’s missile program. But above all thanks to the deal Iran doesn’t even need to cheat to get a bomb. For example, the deal allows Iran to keep its enrichment capacity and conduct nuclear research and development. Moreover it doesn’t require Iran to stand down with respect to its bomb making technology.
A nuclear Iran is alarming for many reasons. First, Iran has purposefully undermined U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq by attempting to create a sphere of influence in Iraq. Iran also continues to undermine U.S. interests in the Middle East by supplying arms and training to the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Furthermore, Iran has continuously called for the total destruction of Israel, one of our closest allies in the region.
I have voted time and again to increase pressure and sanctions on Iran in order to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons and I will continue to do so. I remain as committed as ever to protecting this great country of ours from those who wish us harm.
To watch me speak out against the nuclear deal with Iran on the House Floor, click on the following links below:
To read the full text of the nuclear agreement, CLICK HERE.
As the lone democracy in the Middle East, Israel is one of our strongest allies in that hostile region – and in the world. I firmly believe maintaining a strong relationship with Israel is paramount to ensuring peace, as we together fight terrorists whose ideology rests on extremist views of Islam that target us both.
The United States must be willing to work with other nations like Israel in order to stop violent Islamic extremists. We must defend our ally Israel, and I fully support its right to defend its people. I have been a major proponent for the U.S. support of Israel's Iron Dome, a short-range anti-rocket system used to defend Israel from rocket attacks carried out by Hamas and other terrorist sponsored organizations.
Time and again I have voted to support the people of Israel and I remain committed to doing so.
In 2012, former KBG officer and Prime Minister Vladmir Putin became President of Russia. Since his succession to power, we have seen Putin’s use of bully tactics to expand Russia in the style of Cold War communists. Case in point: the Russian-led annexation of Crimea (which is sovereign Ukrainian territory) back in 2014. This was an illegal and provocative act of war, and yet we saw former President Obama fail to stand up to Putin.
Many of our allies remain fearful of Russian expansionism, and America must reassure them. I refuse to let Obama’s failure be the end of the story. America must stand strong against Russian aggression and act to put tough economic sanctions on Russia. I have consistently voted to place new sanctions on Russia and to authorize the transfer of much-needed weapons to Ukraine. I also support weakening Russia’s power by exporting American energy to Europe, which currently depends on Russia for much of their energy resources.
In recent days we have seen an increasingly aggressive China, what with the Chinese expansion in the South China Sea, dangerous intercepts of U.S. Navy aircraft operating in international airspace by Chinese fighter jets, and Chinese cyber-attacks against sensitive U.S. government databases. It’s clear that China is seeking to expand its territorial claims – in violation of international law – and challenge American influence in the region. And America must keep its eye on the situation and retain our competitive edge. The world cannot doubt our strength and resolve.
South China Sea
In the South China Sea, China has conducted an island-building campaign in which China has literally created new islands out of thin air. These islands are in international waters where China has no legal claims. What’s worse, these islands are not being built for peaceful purposes – but are being built for offensive military purposes. I strongly support providing our military every resource necessary to counter the Chinese military’s increasingly aggressive stance in the Pacific.
Intercepts of U.S. Navy Aircraft
For years, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been aggressively attempting to assert extraterritorial claims in areas where it has no legal basis. As part of their effort, the PLA Air Force has been engaged in dangerous intercepts of U.S. Naval aircraft that are legally operating in international airspace. A particularly egregious incident in 2001 actually downed a U.S. EP-3 aircraft, and intercepts have occurred as recently as September, 2015.
To make matters worse, in November of 2013, China unlawfully declared sovereignty over a large swath of disputed airspace over the East China Sea by establishing an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). This destabilizing action has increased tensions and has raised the risk of conflict in the region. While the Obama Administration challenged China on this unlawful ADIZ, more must be done to deter further aggression from China.
Chinese Cyber Attacks
China has been in the news recently for its hacking of sensitive U.S. Government databases at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). These types of attacks seriously jeopardize American security, however China has not limited its attacks to just the U.S. government, either. In fact, China routinely seeks to steal sensitive intellectual property from American businesses. In a competitive global economy, this is a huge threat to American economic growth. That is why I have supported legislation to allow the government to share cyber threat information with private American companies in order to help better defend from these types of offensive cyber-attacks.
As a Korean War Veteran who flew 62 combat missions in Korea, I am deeply concerned with recent aggressive actions by the North Korean regime. For years, North Korea has threatened the United States and our allies with nuclear weapons, defied U.N. resolutions, committed some of the worst human rights violations in the world. And now North Korea is also engaged in cyber-attacks against Americans including the recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.
Although the Korean War Armistice was signed in 1953, we must not forget that a state of conflict persists on the Korean peninsula to this day. In fact, thousands of brave Americans remain deployed in South Korea.
Freedom is not free, and America must remain a strong ally of South Korea. I believe that even tougher sanctions are needed to reign in the North Korean regime and cut it off from its revenues generated through illicit activities, and I have consistently supported legislation to do just that, including H.R. 757, the North Korea Sanctions Enforcement Act of 2015.