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Public Statements

Column - Defending Our Liberties

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

As Americans, we enjoy rights and freedoms unmatched by any other nation in the world. Throughout history our Armed Forces have fought to protect these freedoms, and they continue to stand guard today. Even in times of limited resources, Congress has a clear responsibility to provide critical support to our men and women on the front lines and ensure the military readiness of the United States.

This week, the House of Representatives took up the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This legislation ensures that our military is ready and capable to face national security threats, provides for accountability by senior commanders, senior civilian officials, and the Commander in Chief, takes steps to control costs and reduce waste, and helps to prepare our military to face future threats. The NDAA also includes provisions to prevent and prosecute sexual assault in the military, a serious concern that must be addressed to protect the welfare of our troops.

In the NDAA signed into law last year, I was pleased to support an amendment which reaffirmed the rights and liberties of United States citizens when detained on U.S. soil. This amendment made great strides in ensuring our citizens receive the fullest protection guaranteed under our Constitution. This week, I offered an amendment to further that protection by ensuring that if a U.S. citizen is detained, the burden is on the government to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is indeed a terrorist instead of the burden being on the U.S. citizen to prove that they are not a terrorist. For United States citizens, the burden should be on the government to prove that the detainee is an enemy belligerent. Citizens should not be put in a position to prove that they are not a terrorist.

My amendment, which passed with bipartisan support, should alleviate any of the well founded concerns relating to the possibility of indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. The fundamental goal of this amendment is to enhance protections and rights of the American people.

Our nation's heroes should be celebrated and their selflessness never forgotten. As we marked Memorial Day just a few weeks ago, we were reminded that many men and women have fought and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms as Americans. I am pleased the House of Representatives worked together in a bipartisan fashion to pass the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides the necessary resources to keep the U.S. military ready to overcome any challenge and continue defending our liberties. To all who serve, and have served, thank you. Protecting our freedoms is not an easy job and we are truly grateful for your sacrifice. May God bless our troops and may He continue to bless the United States of America.

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