ENSURING OUR DEFENSE

The September 11th attacks gave proof that freedom is not free, that our nation must at all times be prepared to defend herself. Unfortunately, it will take years to recover from the extraordinary downsizing and underdevelopment that occurred during the Clinton Administration, when Congress underfunded the military by an estimated $300 billion a year. With the recently passed Defense Authorization Bill for 2003, our military is finally on the right track to recovery. We are investing in people, by securing a much needed and long-overdue 4.1% across-the-board military pay raise and by providing the largest increase in manpower since 1986. And we are investing in the future, by authorizing $7.8 billion for the National Ballistic Missile Defense program. Such a system will secure our freedom and our future, and send a message to the world that the United States stands ready to defend her people and her democracy.

I supported the Presidentís request for $7.3 billion to combat terrorism militarily, which will root out terrorist cells such as Al Qaeda and Hamas. I also supported the Bioterrorism Preparedness Act, which provides more than $3 billion to assist our states to prepare against the threat of biological and chemical weapons attacks, secure safe drinking water, and upgrade the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services is now taking steps to stockpile vaccines against such deadly diseases as smallpox and mad cow disease.