US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Defending the United States

Rounds Logo 2016 MikeRounds official SenateDefending the United States
By Senator Mike Rounds

When I was working as governor of South Dakota, one of the most difficult parts of my job was sending off our men and women in uniform as they deployed overseas. I promised them I would do everything I could to make sure they came home safe and sound, and to take care of their families while they were gone. Working in the Senate now, the defense of our country and support for our troops are still two of my top priorities. As I’ve said many times, the most important responsibility of the federal government is to provide for our national defense. Unless that responsibility is fulfilled, the freedoms we enjoy every day are in jeopardy.

In the Senate, we need to pass a defense appropriations bill each year to provide the necessary resources for our troops to conduct operations around the globe. Yet, Senate Democrats have blocked the defense appropriations bill from even being debated six times in this Congress. They have chosen this path of obstruction apparently to use the defense appropriations bill as a bargaining chip for some other spending they may identify in the future.

Supporting our troops should not be a partisan issue. It should be an issue where we can find consensus, and I hope that it can be the first step toward moving the Senate back to what we call “regular order” with regard to the budget process. This means passing not only the defense appropriations bill but all of the appropriations bills one-by-one, so that we have the opportunity to debate and consider the merits of each bill individually. Regular order is an important way to keep our spending priorities in check.

Another issue that impacts our national security is our soaring national debt. Three-fourths of our budget—mandatory federal spending and the interest on the debt—is on auto-pilot, and Congress has little ability to debate the merits of that part of the budget through the appropriations process. This leaves one-quarter of the annual budget for everything else – from education and infrastructure to national defense. The result is that budget caps and other efforts to rein in costs are narrowly focused on the one-quarter of the budget which Congress controls. Unfortunately that includes defense – the primary responsibility of the federal government.

By cutting the amount we spend on defense, we are putting our nation’s security at risk. Sequestration has shrunk the size of our Army from 566,000 active-duty soldiers in 2011 to an estimated 450,000 at the end of 2017. This is despite the fact that threats against the United States continue to increase.

We made a promise to our troops that we would do everything we can to keep them safe. We should be prepared to make good on that promise. There is a very human price to underfunding our nation’s armed forces. It is our men and women in uniform who will hurt the most if Congress does not give them the tools they need to perform their jobs. It’s time to put aside our political arguments and agree on one thing: defending our great nation—and those who serve to protect it—is the primary responsibility of the federal government. 


5 Replies to “US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Defending the United States”

  1. Jaa Dee

    Democrats objected to the legislation because of larger concerns that Republicans wouldn’t hold up a two-year budget deal.

    “We have a defense bill, it’s an appropriations bill. Once that’s done, the appropriations process will be wiped out and we’ll be at the mercy of the Republicans in some form or fashion,” Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said ahead of the vote.

    Democrats sent a letter to McConnell this week calling on him to pledge that spending bills from both the House and the Senate would follow “fair funding” and avoid controversial “poison pill” riders.

    Reid pointed to the current stalemate of Zika funding, arguing that McConnell must “publicly give his word that all appropriations bills … will comply with what we talked about.”
    “Supporting our troops should not be a partisan issue.”– Then why are you and your making it about politics just like the Zika bill ?


    1. Springer

      Reid saying,”we’ll be at the mercy of the Republicans in some form or fashion,” is just rich. Here is the loudmouth Senator Reid complaining that they would be at the “mercy” of the Reps! Just what does he think has been going on for the past eight years? The country/citizens have been at the “mercy” of the Obamacare/Dems with regard to over-reaching regulations (now laws, just regs), the take-over of our health care industry (it was never about health care; it was about power and getting to a single payer govt program), essentially open southern border, ignoring immigration law, ignoring law concerning sanctuary cities, war on coal and oil, and on and on. And his complaints about fair funding bills??? How about Obamacare and the lies used to pass it and the mantra from Pelosi that “we have to pass it to see what’s in it.” Fair funding, my ——-!

  2. Anonymous

    That is rich! Concerned about the national debt after voting for Obama’s $1.1 TRILLION budget bill that funded everything Republicans oppose?!

  3. Anonymous

    I just wish the same level of concern applied to education and healthcare. The illusion of security and safety through defense spending is a rabbit hole, yet here we go even above and beyond what the pentagon asks for.

    This SD senator wants to eliminate the Department of Education, as well as the Affordable Care Act. It’s all about perception eh Senator? We have big guns, you are safe! Stand up and thank God and the Flag that people like Senator Rounds make you SAFE (even if a few freedoms must sacrificed)!

    1. Anonymous

      YES, eliminate the Department of Education and get DC out of local classrooms! You have a problem with that? What else do you want the federal government to do for you today?

      YES, eliminate Obamacare. It is another takeover by a corrupt federal government. Look around and tell me how Obamacare has been successful? We’re sinking into socialized medicine.

      An example: a friend of mine spoke with HR at her company regarding shots for her baby. Because they have private medical insurance and not Medicaid, their child had to have 5 shots instead of two combo shots, because the 5 shots are cheaper; but the person whose insurance is paid by the rest of us can have their kid get only two shots, which are more expensive? Fair? I think not!