Issue: Defense and National Security

WALORSKI STATEMENT REGARDING ONGOING SITUATION IN SYRIA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today released the following statement regarding the ongoing situation in Syria:

“With reports confirming the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria, I share the grave concern and heartache echoed by the American people and the international community.

“I have said the president must clearly articulate a comprehensive plan to the American people and Congress explaining how a ‘limited, narrow act’ of military strikes protects our national interests and shields our allies like Israel. Today, it remains unclear how his plan will deter the Assad regime, and I am concerned a failed attempt provokes dangerous risks for our military, nation, and other countries.

“Based on the current situation, I cannot support the president’s call for congressional authorization for the use of force. This decision represents the overwhelming sentiments of my Hoosier constituents, and reflects my assessment of the president’s incomplete case to the American people.

“When Congress reconvenes, I look forward to participating in this important discussion and will take a close look at any legislation that takes shape in the House. Until then, I cannot offer my support for the president’s plan.”

WALORSKI STATEMENT ON THE PRESIDENT’S COMMENTS ON SYRIA

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement in response to the president’s call for a congressional vote to authorize military action in Syria:

“The American people deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard in Congress regarding the situation in Syria, and I respect the President’s decision to seek a congressional vote concerning future military action.

“I urge Congress to return to Washington immediately so that President Obama can make the case to lawmakers and the American people as to how military action could fulfill a comprehensive strategy to protect our national interests and shield our allies.

“The president’s red line was already crossed, yet it still remains unclear how his recent consideration for a ‘limited, narrow act’ will deter the Assad regime, and I look forward to hearing the Administration’s specific plan in the coming days.”

CONGRESSWOMAN WALORSKI RETURNS FROM TRIP TO ISRAEL

Congresswoman meets with top Israeli and Palestinian leaders

MISHAWAKA, IN – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) recently returned from Israel where she gained firsthand understanding of some of our nation’s most pressing foreign policy challenges. During the trip, Walorski met with senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders and learned more about the U.S.-Israel relationship, Israel’s security situation, and current political and economic trends in the region.

“As Israel continues to experience constant terror threats from surrounding countries, the United States recognizes its special bond to Israel and is proud to be a strong ally. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I believe it is critical that the United States continues to focus on Israel’s security, particularly from the growing nuclear threat in Iran, to help stabilize the region and protect our own national security interests,” said Walorski. “I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with a wide range of leaders across the spectrum, including Israeli and Palestinian leaders about their quest to reach lasting peace across the region.”

As part of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Walorski offered an amendment expressing the sense of Congress to fully support implementing U.S. and international sanctions on Iran. This House-passed amendment reiterates that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability, and declares that the U.S. has a vital national interest in the survival and security of the State of Israel.

“Egypt’s stability is also paramount to the security of Israel and the entire region. The horrific blood-shed between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security forces must be stopped, focusing on a non-violent resolution to restore stability for the Egyptian people. The United States needs to carefully consider the consequences of suspending foreign aid to the Egyptian military, who currently uphold a strong national security presence that prevents Al Qaeda from acquiring safe havens in the Middle East and maintains important resources like access to the Suez Canal,” said Walorski.

The trip was sponsored by the American Israel Educational Foundation (AIEF), a charity affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and was paid for by the AIEF, which is privately funded by American citizens.

WALORSKI: “I URGE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO ABDANON HIS DECISION TO TRANSFER GUANTANAMO DETAINEES TO YEMEN”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) released the following statement in response to President Obama’s recent decision to stand by lifting his moratorium on releasing Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Yemen:

“Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has maintained a frightening stronghold in Yemen, recently plotting to overthrow the Yemeni government and take advantage of the fragile security situation in this country.

“The dangerous nature of AQAP has been reaffirmed by recent jail breaks of hundreds of hardened terrorists and the recent global terror warning issued by the State Department that forced the closure of numerous U.S. diplomatic missions.

“In light of these serious threats, I urge President Obama to abandon his decision to transfer Guantanamo detainees to Yemen and extend his moratorium on releasing detainees to this unstable country.

“We must continue to fight Al Qaeda to keep our communities safe from future terrorist attacks against our citizens. One way to combat these threats is to enact policies like my House-passed amendment to prohibit funds from being used to transfer or release Guantanamo detainees to Yemen where they are likely to reengage in terrorist activities aimed at harming U.S. citizens.

“Al Qaeda remains a serious national security threat despite repeated claims from the president that the organization has been “decimated” and is “on the run.”

WALORSKI PARTICIPATES IN INDIANA EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS FIELD HEARING

Walorski: “Public Safety Remains a Number One Priority for Hoosiers”

CARMEL, IN – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today participated in a field hearing held by Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (IN-05) to assess Indiana’s emergency preparedness for a mass casualty event. Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Congressman Todd Young (IN-09) also joined the panel to hear testimony provided by federal, state, and local officials and first responders and members of the Indiana emergency medical response community.

“Recent events from tornadoes in Miami County to terrorist attacks in Boston serve as critical reminders that we must maintain strong emergency preparedness efforts for Hoosier communities. This hearing provides a great opportunity to hear from first responders and officials serving in our schools, hospitals, and communities to facilitate effective response programs. Public safety remains a number one priority for Hoosier families, and it is critical that we monitor and expand programs for unexpected events ranging from terrorist attacks to natural disasters.

“Northern Indiana is home to rural farm areas and high population universities, requiring dynamic response efforts to properly facilitate an evacuation and ensure public safety. Moving forward, we must strengthen existing programs and constantly evaluate emergency preparedness to protect Hoosiers and increase national security. I would like to thank Congresswoman Brooks for organizing this important field hearing, and Senator Donnelly and Congressman Young for joining these efforts to improve readiness for Hoosiers,” said Walorski.

The field hearing was an official hearing of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications. Testimony was provided from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez III, Indiana Department of Homeland Security Director John Hill, first responders, and members of the Indiana emergency medical response community. The objective was to examine whether Indiana was prepared for a variety of threats and hazards, specifically chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attacks.

WALORSKI SUPPORTS NUCLEAR IRAN PREVENTION ACT OF 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski released the following statement after the House voted to pass H.R. 850, the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013:

“There is no greater threat to our national security than a nuclear-armed Iran. This bipartisan legislation sends a clear message to Iranian leadership that the United States has zero tolerance for the development of nuclear weapons and will not idly stand by while Iran takes further steps to advance nuclear programs. I stand behind this effort for the sake of Hoosiers at home and Americans across the country who deserve to feel safe and secure in their communities.”

WALORSKI WELCOMES SUPPORT FOR HMMWVS, INDIANA NATIONAL GUARD

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) welcomed inclusion of funding for the procurement of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) for the Army National Guard as part of the House-passed Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 2397). The bill includes $100 million to refit HMMWVs for the Indiana National Guard and Guard units around the country.

“The HMMWV remains a high competency vehicle manufactured in Northern Indiana by AM General, and I am proud the House approved critical funding to support the local economy and military readiness for the Indiana National Guard,” said Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “As Hoosier guardsmen continue to protect and serve our country during natural disasters and missions abroad, it is critical they are fitted with reliable equipment made right here in the Second District. I urge the Senate to quickly approve this bipartisan funding to provide the National Guard with the tools they need and strengthen Hoosier manufacturing.”

HMMWVs have been a stronghold in the military for years, known for their reliability and versatility to perform both support and combat roles. They are fully assembled at the Mishawaka Assembly Plant, in addition to several other models and equipment used by the Armed Forces.

“The Indiana National Guard is pleased to hear that $100M is approved for new HMMWVs and modernization of current HMMWVs. The HMMWV has been the work horse of the Army since its introduction in 1984. This dual purpose vehicle has proven to be the absolute best option for both our federal and state missions,” said Major General R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of Indiana.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act will be referred to the Senate for consideration.

WALORSKI AMENDMENT BLOCKS FUNDS FOR GTMO DETAINEE TRANSFER TO YEMEN

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2397), the House today passed an amendment offered by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) to prohibit funds for the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen.

“Released Guantanamo detainees are reengaging in acts of terrorism, plotting attacks to kill our troops and innocent civilians,” said Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This amendment blocks funding for detainee transfers to Yemen to ensure taxpayer dollars are not wrongfully used to return the world’s most dangerous terrorists to the Arabian Peninsula, where Al Qaeda activity continues to be a serious national security threat.”

Walorski offered a related amendment adopted during consideration of the House-version fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), prohibiting the Secretary of Defense from using funds to authorize the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen. According to the most recent Defense Intelligence Agency report, almost 30% of former Guantanamo detainees were suspected or confirmed of terrorist reengagement.

HOUSE APPROVES WALORSKI MILITARY WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS BILL

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed a bill authored by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02), H.R. 1864, to extend whistleblower protections to military sexual assault victims with a bipartisan vote of 423-0. As her first standalone bill, this legislation requires the Inspector General to investigate allegations of retaliation in connection to a servicemember reporting an act of sexual violence and includes reports of sexual assault as a form of communication under military whistleblower protections

“The House has passed this commonsense bill and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to do the same,” said Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This provision was added to the Senate Armed Services Committee version of the NDAA, but we have not yet gone to conference. With the growing epidemic of sexual assault, our servicemembers deserve immediate action to eradicate future violence and establish safe reporting.”

Walorski’s sexual assault measure was included in the House version of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and a companion bill was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Claire McCaskill. Today’s passage as a standalone bill provides an opportunity for Congress to prioritize the military sexual assault crisis and sign meaningful protections into law as soon as possible.

“Every day our brave servicemembers put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms from foreign threats. It is unthinkable that our troops should face the additional and unacceptable threat of sexual assault from within their very own ranks, and I am proud my first bill in Congress will work toward ending violence in the Armed Forces,” said Walorski.

According to a recent Pentagon report, there were an estimated 26,000 cases committed against servicemembers last year alone with only 3,600 cases reported. It is also reported that 62 percent of those who have been assaulted went on to experience some form of retaliation.

To watch Walorski’s remarks on the House floor yesterday, click here.

NATIONAL DEFENSE BILL INCLUDES WALORSKI PROVISIONS ON MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT, GUANTANAMO DETAINEE POLICY, IRAN SANCTIONS

Walorski Measures Pass in House Version of Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed its version of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including provisions authored by Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02) combating military sexual assault, prohibiting the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, and supporting the full enforcement of Iran sanctions.

“When I talk with Hoosier moms and dads, they are concerned about our national security and the safety of their families. Each of these provisions works towards protecting America’s sons and daughters and ensuring the United States continues to fight terrorism and nuclear threats to make the world a safer place,” said Walorski, a freshman member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This defense bill is the key mechanism to provide necessary resources for our nation’s warfighters, and I am pleased my proposals were included to strengthen American foreign policy and protect our servicemembers.”

WALORSKI PROVISIONS

Whistleblower Protections for Military Sexual Assault Victims

This provision specifically identifies reports of sexual assault as a form of communication under whistleblower protections and requires an Inspector General investigation into allegations of retaliatory personnel actions taken against victims who have reported alleged instances of rape, sexual assault, or other forms of sexual misconduct in the military.

Earlier this week, Walorski spoke about her proposal on the House floor during general debate. The bill continues to garner bipartisan support with over 100 co-sponsors, with companion legislation introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

To watch Walorski floor speech, click here.

Prohibit Transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen

This amendment prohibits the Secretary of Defense from using any funds authorized to the department for the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen for one year.

According to a 2012 estimate from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 27% of former Guantanamo detainees were suspected or confirmed of terrorist reengagement, a troubling increase from the previous report. During a speech at the National Defense University in May, President Obama announced he was lifting his moratorium on transfers to Yemen, a decision that could send nearly 60 Yemeni detainees into the center of AQAP’s base. Passage of the Walorski amendment will prohibit any authorized Department of Defense funds from contributing to this movement.

To watch Walorski floor speech, click here.

Support Sanctions on Iran

This amendment expresses the sense of Congress in support of fully implementing U.S. and international sanctions on Iran. Reiterates that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability, and declares that the U.S. has a vital national interest in the survival and security of the State of Israel.

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