His colleague from Ohio is equally frustrated with the Democrats’ actions. Turner explains, “They claim the issue was monetary but obviously they have no concern with spending anywhere but on defense.” It is not an issue of technology or whether these programs might bear fruit, he points out, because Democrats are not eliminating these programs, only reducing the funding.
Turner, like Franks, finds the timing noteworthy. “They are taking their action [to reduce funding] while a missile is sitting on a launch pad in North Korea that media and our Pentagon reports say could be an ICBM missile.”
As for the funding, he notes that continuing to field 44 interceptors and complete construction of Missile Field 2 in Alaska would require only $120M, after $32M has already been spent to date. “You would think you wouldn’t waste the investment,” he remarks.
The issue, he says, is one of priorities. “They seem absolutely unquenchable on their spending except in the area of national security,” he observes.
The battle is not over however. Franks says, “I still have hope” — and recalls that two years ago cuts made in committee were restored before the defense spending was finalized. And Turner believes that the public will be engaged once they understand the issue. “If we have the technology and the know-how, everyone expects us to deploy it, ” he says. He believes this is not a hypothetical threat. “This is a known threat the American people are aware of.”
Ahead is a vote on the House floor when Republicans intend to once again raise the issue of cuts to missile defense programs. Then it is on to the Senate where Turner say s he is “hopeful” that money can be restored to the programs. There, Republicans may find some bipartisan support from senators like Independent Joe Lieberman and Alaska Democrat Mark Beglich who have already taken up the cause of restoring funds for missile defense.
The issue for Congress, the White House, and the American people remains: why would we decide now, of all times, to slash viable missile defense programs that could protect the U.S. and its allies from the threat of nuclear attack?