America’s top foreign policy goal must be to defend our citizens and our homeland from foreign threats. Combating terrorism and preventing future terrorist attacks remain national priorities, and we must oppose the policies of oppressive regimes who threaten the interests of the United States and our allies. Governments that empower violent extremists, abuse their own people, or threaten the safety of Americans are of the utmost concern. I have always voted to ensure the brave men and women of our Armed Forces have the resources and training necessary to succeed on and off the battlefield.
Keeping our Homeland Safe and Opposing Threats to the United States
I joined forces with U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and the entire Michigan Congressional Delegation in working in support of bringing a new cyber mission to Battle Creek, Michigan. In December of 2015, it was announced that Michigan Air National Guard's 110th Attack Wing, stationed in Battle Creek, would be the new host of a Cyber Operations Squadron. This new Cyber Squadron puts Southwest Michigan on the front lines of protecting our nation against the ever-evolving threat of cyber attacks.
Additionally, I supported the passage of the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act which gives our men and women in the military the tools they need to do their jobs. It also requires President Obama to come up with a plan to take on the very real threat of terrorist groups like ISIS.
I am also pleased that our military engagement in Iraq has ended and our presence in Afghanistan is drawing to a close. Having visited both countries, I have some understanding of the complex and enormous challenges in these regions. In Afghanistan, our armed forces have a clear and focused goal: stop the ability of the Taliban to provide a safe haven to al Qaeda, and stop al Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities. I look forward to the day our troops return home safely.
The United States and its allies must also contend with threats posed by hostile regimes like Iran, North Korea, and Syria. I have supported numerous efforts to impose sanctions against rogue states like these for their illegal weapons programs, support of terrorist organizations, and widespread human rights abuses. In light of our current fiscal situation, I also believe we must scrutinize all foreign aid to ensure it is only going to the most deserving causes and nations.
Stopping Sexual Assault in the Military
With 87 percent of the estimated incidents of unwanted sexual contact going unreported by those serving in the military for fear of retaliation, it is clear that our military’s current system is broken and failing to protect those who have sacrificed so much to keep our nation safe and secure. I am proud to be a cosponsor of the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (H.R. 2016), which would move the decision of whether a sexual assault case goes to trail outside the victim’s chain of command to an experienced military prosecutor. H.R. 2016 also requires a commanding officer who receives a report of sexual assault in his chain of command to immediately refer the report to the appropriate investigative officer. Further, the legislation would prohibit a commanding officer from overturning a conviction or changing a guilty finding to a lesser included offense.
I have also supported a number of other provisions to address the sexual assault crisis, including mandatory minimum sentencing for offenders and expanded services for victims.
Securing our Borders
We must remain steadfast in enforcing the immigration and border security laws that are already on the books. I also support legislative efforts to strengthen security along our porous borders and restrict illegal entry. I have supported many efforts to fight smuggling and prevent the abuse of our nation’s immigration laws, including funding for fence construction and surveillance technology. Fixing our broken immigration system would go a long way to support these efforts.
Guarding Against Cyber Attacks
As our nation becomes more reliant on digital communications technology, we also increase our exposure to cyber threats from foreign regimes and non-state actors. Cyber risks to our nation’s critical infrastructure have increased significantly in recent years, including multiple high-profile cyber incidents that have confirmed the steady rise in cyber attacks. My committee has continued to closely monitor cyber security protection and mitigation efforts of those vital sectors within the committee’s jurisdiction, including oil and gas pipelines, the electric grid, nuclear energy, chemical facilities, sewer and water, and telecommunications. Combating such threats requires a cyber security regime that provides ample flexibility to afford owners and operators of critical infrastructure the ability to protect against and respond to rapidly evolving threats.