Jon Kyl: Saluting Buck McKeon’s “unwavering commitment to strong national defense”

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Three-term Senator from Arizona Jon Kyl joined the Center for Security Policy in honoring Congressman Buck McKeon with the 2011 Keeper of the Flame award. Sen. Kyl himself is a 1994 recipient of the award and a longtime supporter of the Center’s work. Below is video and a transcript of the senator’s remarks.




The Center for Security Policy’s Keeper of the Flame Award Dinner
October 4, 2011, Union Station, Washington, DC

Thank you very much. You know, one time I had the honor of introducing Dr. Henry Kissinger at a very small event in New York City. There were three tables about this size in a small room. Everybody there knew Dr. Kissinger at least as well as I did. But I was asked to introduce him. And, Frank, I did the same thing. I said, “this man needs no introduction.” Well, he came to the dais and said, “it may be true that I need no introduction, but no one enjoys one more than I do.” So thank you for embellishing that just a little bit. Carol and I are delighted to be here for, I don’t know, twenty-some events. And every one is-it’s just a real pleasure for all of us and especially so tonight. Particularly because I am pleased to introduce my friend and colleague representative, “Buck” McKeon, our honoree this evening.

Buck was named the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee back in 2009 and then when the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, he was elected by his peers to chair the committee. As a member of that committee during my tenure in the House of Representatives, I can tell you that selection to this prestigious committee is a testament to leadership experience, the confidence of his colleagues, and an unwavering commitment to strong national defense.

These days, Buck’s job is one of the most difficult in Washington. He’s had to work to strengthen our military at the same time that appropriations are being slashed. He has succeeded, working with members of both parties, to deliver a defense authorization bill that supports our national security, even in the face of these imposed cuts. The committee was ordered to cut its budget to nine billion dollars below the president’s requests for 2012. What’s more, the budget control act requires an additional almost five hundred billion dollars in reductions over the next ten years. And on top of all of this is the threat of future defense cuts that would be triggered by the budget control act’s sequester mechanism in the event that the joint committee, which Frank mentioned I happen to serve on, doesn’t come up with a spending reduction package that Congress can pass. As Buck put it, any additional cuts, either from the joint committee or the sequestration trigger, would turn a debt crisis into a national security crisis. And he’s right. As a member of that select committee–and some of you may have read that I suggested that if they decided that they wanted to talk about defense costs that they would have to have somebody else serve on the committee, that I wasn’t there to serve on the committee to cut defense further. Buck and I talk on the phone a lot about how to prevent this from happening. We’re going to work very, very hard to see that it doesn’t happen.

Former [Defense] Secretary Bob Gates has said that further reductions would have a catastrophic effect on our national security. And [current Defense] Secretary Panetta has referred to sequester as a doomsday scenario. But not everyone fully grasps how harmful these potential cuts could be. Fortunately, Buck understands the need to educate others. So he’s directed his committee to hold a series of hearings that will address the implications of the first round of cuts and show what a sequestration doomsday scenario might look like.

Buck, I applaud you for your strong leadership on that issue. And I also want to especially acknowledge, with deep appreciation, your strong support for our nation’s nuclear deterrent and missile defense capabilities. Just an example: our ground based, mid course defense system, or GMD, is the only defense system capable of defending us against a long range missile attack from a country, say Iran or North Korea. The administration tried to curtail the modernization of this system. But Buck insured that the fiscal year 2012 budget requests for GMD were increased by a hundred million dollars. And this is at a time when, as you know, other cuts had to occur.

Likewise, Buck supports the modernization of our nuclear forces. He understands that as defense cuts lead to a decline in our conventional strength, the importance of our nuclear deterrent will only increase in future years. Our nation is well served with Buck McKeon at the helm of this powerful committee.

It’s a dangerous and complex world in which we live. We have to be able to respond to all of the threats facing our country, small and large, conventional and unconventional. We’re asking a lot of our military men and women these days and they simply can’t do it without proper support from the United States Congress. And that’s why Buck is here. To insure that our country fulfills its first and most important promise to its citizens, that it will keep us safe.

It is a great pleasure for me to introduce to you tonight, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the gentleman from California, Buck McKeon.


More from the 2011 Keeper of the Flame

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