As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am involved daily with the oversight of our national defense, and I deeply appreciate and respect the sacrifices made by our brave servicemembers.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where I am proud to serve on the Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities; Strategic Forces; and Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I believe a strong national defense is critically important to protect our citizens from harm and to preserve the liberties we cherish. Our brave men and women in uniform are the backbone of our armed forces, and I have consistently worked in Congress to provide them with the necessary resources to continue their record of excellent service. I have also fought to promote responsible national security policies that will keep our country safe and protect the rights we enjoy as Americans.
Supporting Our Troops
Our servicemembers in uniform demonstrate great commitment, and we must ensure that they and their families do not encounter financial hardship as a result of their service to our nation. I was privileged to witness firsthand their professionalism on the front lines during my visits to Iraq and Afghanistan, and meeting with soldiers from Rhode Island served to remind me of the uncommon courage and dedication that can come from communities all across America. Consequently, I have consistently supported pay increases and other important benefits for our nation's service men and women. I fought successfully against proposed reductions in combat pay and family separation allowances for those serving abroad. I have also advocated for improved health care benefits for National Guard and Reservists and their families.
Maintaining a Capable Military
For our military to be effective, it must have up-to-date equipment and state-of-the-art technology. I voted to provide funds for more armored vehicles and bulletproof vests to improve the safety of our men and women in combat overseas. I have also strongly supported the development of weapons programs that will provide U.S. military superiority now and into the future. This includes the remarkable Virginia-class submarines, which offer the capability and flexibility needed to protect our nation from a wide array of threats and play an increasingly important role in the future of the United States Navy. Quonset Point is a critical production facility for Virginia-class subs, and the production process has become a model for efficiency and cost-savings. I have been proud to fight for the two-boats-per-year production schedule now in place, and I will continue to working to esnure Congressional approval of procurement plans that will not only create jobs in Rhode Island, but also strengthen our nation's defense.
Our military must prepare for future conflicts by ensuring that the U.S. military can operate effectively across all domains, including cyberspace. The Department of Defense’s decision to stand up its Cyber Command shows the critical importance of our information infrastructure to national security and our ability to project American military power overseas. I am proud to have authored the first comprehensive cybersecurity legislation to pass either chamber of Congress, and I will continue to be a vocal advocate for protecting our national and economic security from cyber threats and for strong and effective oversight of our cyber defense efforts.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal
I am proud to have supported the repeal of the discriminatory and misguided “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy of our nation’s military. This policy undermined our national security and resulted in the discharge of more than 13,000 trained and qualified men and women from our armed forces based solely on their sexual orientation while discouraging thousands more from entering service or re-enlisting. I am pleased that, thanks to Congressional pressure and President Obama’s decisive leadership, young men and women who wish nothing more than to defend their fellow citizens are no longer forced to lie about who they are. Our nation is founded on the principles of human dignity and equality. All who wish to serve our country should be allowed to do so regardless of race, creed, or orientation.