Issue Position: National Security
Protecting our nationand the freedoms we cherish as Americansfrom those who would do us harm is first and foremost among the duties of Congress. Accordingly, defending the United States, the American people and our Constitution is my highest priority as Minnesota's U.S. Senator.
We must remain vigilant in deterring hostile nations; pursuing terrorist networks intent on bringing death and destruction to our country; and identifying and eliminating vulnerabilities in our borders, ports and critical infrastructure. In this ever-shrinking global civilization that draws both our friends and enemies closer to us, we must never lose our focus on our commitment to protect our national security.
Protecting our national security means maintaining unparalleled military capabilities and the finest armed forces in the world. It means strengthening alliances with friendly nations and presenting a united front against belligerent states, particularly those that sponsor or condone terrorist activities. It means increasing our capacity to respond to domestic emergencies and disasters, and reducing our vulnerabilities abroad and at home. It means reducing our dependence on foreign oil and the dangerous or unstable regimes that supply the oil. Protecting our national security also means responding to the threat of global climate change.
The new Democratic majority in Congress recognizes that many glaring holes remain in our homeland security, even though much has been done in the years since the tragic events of 9/11. One of the first bills my colleagues and I brought to the Senate floorand passed with bipartisan supportincluded action on the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. For years and years, family members of those who perished at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field stood in the halls of the U.S. Capitol with copies of the 9/11 Commissions report to remind members of Congress of the need to do more to prevent the repeat of such a catastrophe. These remaining recommendations are now law and our nation is more secure.
As Minnesota's U.S. Senator, these are my national security priorities:
* Rebuild our Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserves. Our military is currently overstretched and undermanned. Our men and women in uniform have consistently performed above and beyond the call of duty, but they are approaching a breaking point. We need to focus our defense budget on retooling and reinforcing our military capabilities and to rewarding those who have sacrificed for this nation, regardless of the branch of service.
* Reaffirm our commitment to NATO and other international institutions that promote freedom and democracy. The United States must continue to lead the global community towards common goals of peaceful exchange and interaction. International organizations and institutions can be vehicles for achieving our aims and serving our national interests, and we must make the most of them. I am proud to head up our interparliamentary group with the government of Canada and will continue to support alliances with other nations across the globe.
* Increase security at borders, ports and at critical infrastructure sites. This includes the screening of all cargo entering U.S. ports, enacting effective security regulations for nuclear and chemical plants, and guarding our food supply. We must provide our first responders and emergency personnel will all the resources they need to react to disasters, natural or intended. We should constantly be evaluating our strengths and weaknesses and moving to correct the latter. Our enemies will not rest, and neither can we. I was proud to vote for S.4, Improving America's Security Act of 2007, which implemented the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.
* Reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Our current national security strategies are held hostage by oil-producing nations whose policies and objectives often diverge from our own. Fostering stable and sustainable homegrown energy sources has the potential to increase our national security more than any other action.
* Combat global poverty and disease. It is our human obligationand in our national interest to help those who lack access to stable food and water supplies and to lead the global fight against AIDS, malaria and other diseases that are devastating entire regions. We must develop and distribute stockpiles of medicine and vaccinations to prevent future global epidemics that no military can conquer.
* Implement comprehensive immigration reform. The current system is broken. We must continue to work to find a bipartisan solution that is tough, fair, and practical. Comprehensive immigration reform needs to include order at the border, including fencing and increased patrols; better enforcement of our immigration laws, including cracking down on employers who hire illegal workers; and the prospect of earned citizenship for those you obey our laws and who are willing to learn English, pay their taxes, and pay a substantial fine.