I Stand with Our Troops
As many of you know, I chair the Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations on the House Armed Services Committee and I also represent Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri’s Fourth District. As such, my priority continues to be ensuring our troops have what they need to defend our nation. Our military is facing a readiness crisis like never before, with our troops lacking the equipment and proper training they need. This year, we had more servicemember deaths from training exercises than combat. This tragic loss of American life is unacceptable.
Every time Congress votes on government funding, and we decide to simply continue the funding levels from the previous year (which is what a continuing resolution is), we tie the hands of our military and further limit their ability to perform their duties. Our troops deserve better. It’s morally wrong to continue to send these men and women into harm’s way without giving them the resources they need.
I’m pleased to report that this week we made significant progress. Keep reading to find out how.
It's time to stand with our troops…
Standing united with my Republican colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to support the budget deal eliminating the harmful funding restrictions on defense spending.
Early Friday morning, I supported H.R. 1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act, legislation to end the harmful funding restrictions mandated by the 2011 defense sequester for two years. I would have preferred a permanent repeal, but this is an important win for now. This legislation also funded the government through March 23, allowing the necessary time to finalize a comprehensive budget.
The bill starts to unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung America’s armed forces and jeopardized our national security by funding the military at this year’s National Defense Authorization Act levels. The estimated number of facilities that now meet the Pentagon’s definition of “failing” have doubled in recent years: our Armed Forces are struggling with crumbling and mold-ridden barracks, hangars that have been condemned, air traffic control facilities and runways in disrepair, collapsed ceilings and contaminated water. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement can invest $23.4 billion to restore everything, including barracks, hangars, roads, runways, and hospitals. Additionally, the Agreement can invest $21.9 billion to get our troops ready to deploy. Within this amount, $2.8 billion can be allocated to repair Army equipment, $5.1 billion to recruit additional soldiers, and $14 billion to replace or upgrade current equipment.
Additionally, the bill provides for America's veterans by helping reduce the maintenance backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This is great news for our men and women in uniform and for our entire country. To learn more about the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, go here.
Honoring one of our own: Sterling Wyatt
Specialist Sterling William Wyatt at Army Boot Camp.
On Wednesday, I introduced H.R. 4960, a bill to honor the memory of Missouri-born Specialist Sterling William Wyatt by naming the downtown Columbia Post Office Building at 511 East Walnut Street in his name.
Spc. Wyatt was born and raised in Columbia. Early on in his life, he showed commitment to serving his community by being an active participant in his youth group and volunteering at church. Through his service and hard work he achieved much: he earned the rank of Eagle Scout, a first-degree black belt in taekwondo, and certification as a Certified Nurse Attendant all before graduating from Rock Bridge High School in 2009.
Soon after graduating, he decided to continue his life of service by joining the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Washington and later deployed to serve his country in Afghanistan. Tragically, at the age of 21 years, Spc. Wyatt was killed on July 11, 2012 while on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan. His vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device (IED).
Specialist Wyatt’s life exemplifies what is good about America and what we all should emulate — service above self. Specialist Wyatt gave his life for his country and left an indelible mark on our hearts. His dedication to serving his community and country were a testament to his faith and family — especially his loving parents, Randy and Sherry. I am honored to introduce this bill and shepherd its passage through the House.
The Power of Prayer
Retired Army Maj. Scott Smiley and his wife Tiffany speak about hope and perseverance at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Thursday was the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, D.C. The event was founded in 1953, with President Dwight Eisenhower as the first President who attended. Since then, the gathering has been a place where every American president has come to share the role faith plays in his life and the life of our nation, and where political, religious, and business leaders from all around the world can meet to pray, fellowship, and form relationships.
I had the opportunity to attend the prayer breakfast this year, and while there I had the pleasure of hearing an opening prayer from Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda; an inspiring talk from Major Scott Smiley, a brave soldier who lost his eyesight in combat and overcame it with the love of his wife and the power of God's grace to become the Army’s first blind active-duty officer; and an incredible speech from Congressman Steve Scalise, who was shot and nearly died at a Congressional baseball team practice earlier this year.
Steve told the audience, "There were so many things that were rooted in faith that not only started that day, but carried me throughout the recovery, that I'm still engaged in... I just started praying. I said, I’m going to put this in God's hands... When you pray for somebody you don't know, they feel it. I felt that prayer. The prayers of so many people that I'd never met before... Thank you for those prayers. They are felt and it truly did help lift me up and lifted my family up through incredibly difficult times."
I am so thankful that God heard Steve's prayers and our prayers for him, and that he is recovering and has been able to rejoin us in the House. I am praying for Steve to continue in a steady and speedy recovery and that we will all be inspired to live our lives with faith, hope, and love like him.
A Few Snapshots from this Week in Washington…
On Wednesday, I met with the National Association for the Support of Long Term Care (NASL) to discuss healthcare policy and how we can create high quality, cost-effective care for providers in the long-term care community. I appreciate all they do to care for so many of our families.
Meeting on Tuesday with the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Program leaders to hear about the efforts they are making to combat drug trafficking in Missouri.
It was a pleasure to meet with the Missouri Rural Water Association on Tuesday to discuss the importance of technical assistance funding for water and waste water systems in small communities.