This is Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland. I am the House Democratic Whip.
On March 29th, House and Senate Democrats joined together to unveil a comprehensive national security agenda. We believe that our highest duty is to protect the American people, secure our homeland, strengthen our national security, and defend the Constitution of the United States. And, we are proud of our party's tradition of strong leadership in world affairs, from Wilson and Roosevelt, to Truman and Kennedy, and beyond.
These Democratic leaders demonstrated that defending America requires our nation to marshal the full range of its power - economic and moral, diplomatic and military - to fight for freedom, to foster democracy and respect for basic human rights, and to defeat tyranny and terrorism. We embrace their legacy, clear-eyed about what it takes to sustain and strengthen our national security.
Today, unfortunately, our nation and our people are not as safe as they could - and should - be. Too often, the Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress have failed to back up their rhetoric with robust action.
Consider the following: Nearly five years after we were struck on September 11th, our ports, chemical and nuclear plants, and mass transit systems are still vulnerable. We still have not implemented all of the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, which recently gave the administration and Congress a 'report card' filled with Fs, Ds, and incompletes. We still have not secured loose nuclear materials in Russia and elsewhere. In fact, the President's budget would cut funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program - our flagship program to secure nuclear material around the world.
In addition, we are more dependent that ever on foreign oil; North Korea may possess more nuclear weapons than it did five years ago, and Iran is seeking a nuclear capacity; anti-Americanism is growing; and President Bush has refused to hold civilian leaders in his Administration accountable for their incompetence and miscalculations on Iraq.
The American people want and deserve a change of direction. To that end, Democrats are united: We will ensure our unparalleled military strength. We are committed to defeating terrorism and stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. We will implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. And, we will work to make 2006 a year of significant transition in Iraq. We also will effectively prepare for natural disasters and epidemics. And, we will ensure that our nation becomes energy independent.
Finally, let me say that we can no longer ignore the dangerous deficits and exploding national debt, which has grown by $3 trillion over the last five years. Fiscal responsibility is a foundation for our national security. And, we cannot continue to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars every year from foreign countries such as China and Saudi Arabia. Democrats urge our Republican friends to join us in a bipartisan consensus to restore our nation's fiscal health.
Our thirty-fifth President - John F. Kennedy - had no illusions about the challenges that confronted our national security. Without question, he was committed to utilizing all of our nation's assets to strengthen our security and protect our people.
"The United States is a peaceful nation," he said. "And where our strength and determination are clear, our words need merely convey conviction, not belligerence. If we are strong, our strength will speak for itself. If we are weak, our words will be of no help."
The American people do not need more rhetoric. They need real security - real security provided by a comprehensive strategy that employs our military strength, intelligence capabilities, homeland defense, diplomacy, economic leverage and - most of all - the enduring power of our American ideals.
Thank you for listening. This is Congressman Steny Hoyer.