Weekly Democratic Address
September 6, 2019
Hello, I’m Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and I’m happy to join you from South Florida today.
Over these last couple of weeks, like many of you, I stood alongside my neighbors as we prepared for Hurricane Dorian.
For the most part, Florida was spared. But I know many of you still face this dangerous storm, so stay safe and be prepared.
I hope those of you who, like me, are now safe, will reach out to those who were not so fortunate, especially to those in the Bahamas.
We’re never stronger as Americans than when we face down a crisis like Dorian together – then help everyone get back on their feet.
So today, we must also remember the women and men who are the first to respond in dangerous moments like this. Sincerely, we thank you.
And like first responders, no Americans are asked to sacrifice more for our safety than those serving in our armed forces.
That’s who I want to talk to you about today.
These brave men and women keep us safe, protect our shores and provide a beacon of peace, hope and democracy around the globe.
Yet these sons and daughters who serve must endure billions of dollars in unmet military construction needs.
In fact, last year, the Pentagon rated more than 30 percent of its infrastructure worldwide as poor or failing.
Their needs include intelligence, training and repair facilities, to basics like the construction of fire stations, schools and clinics for their children and families on base.
Despite those needs, the President is threatening to make our service members’ lives even harder.
President Trump says he will steal $3.6 billion from projects that the military requested, and Congress appropriated funding for – and divert it to a xenophobic vanity wall project on our Southwest border.
That $3.6 billion total, for context, is equal to nearly half of the entire Defense Department construction program.
Let’s forget for a moment that the Constitution expressly forbids this: No President can spend funds not appropriated by Congress.
And for now, ignore all the security experts who agree this medieval fence would be an ineffective, colossal waste of tax dollars.
With good reason, Congress repeatedly refused to fund this wasteful wall on a bipartisan basis because it’s the very definition of a boondoggle.
“Instead, focus on who he’s robbing to pay for this monument to intolerance: Our brave service members.
Trump would poach funds from an elementary school for service members’ children at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and divert funding from a middle school at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
Dozens of projects in nearly two dozen states, from fire houses and flight simulation facilities, to roads and dining halls, they all would be sacrificed for Trump’s wall.
This unconstitutional act would not only weaken our troops serving stateside but would siphon funds from similar projects around the globe, and handcuff efforts to combat Russian aggression and protect our national security.
I chair the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee.
It is just one panel in Congress that scrutinizes military construction projects, very carefully.
We all work with military leaders to review, confirm and prioritize them, and each must withstand tests of fiscal responsibility and operational necessity.
Yet the President wants to swipe billions from approved military projects, just to fulfill a foolish campaign promise – a broken promise, remember, because US taxpayers, not Mexico, will be paying for this monstrosity.
I’ve visited numerous U.S. bases, at home and abroad.
I look in the faces of women and men who spend stressful months far from loved ones, just to protect us – who risk their lives daily for this noble idea we call America.
And I know we cannot let these patriots down by allowing Trump to cut their legs out just so he can deliver on his bigoted rally cry.
They deserve better. A lot better.
This attack on the military and our Constitution is not something we can or will take lightly.
Democrats will fight this hijacking aimed at our armed forces every way we can. We’re fighting “For the People”: to lower health costs and prescription drug prices; to raise wages by rebuilding America’s infrastructure; to clean up corruption to make Washington work for you.
But this President thrives on distraction and disinformation.
He fuels nativist anxieties, and ignores compassionate, comprehensive immigration reforms.
He taunts trading partners and allies abroad, then neglects our crumbling infrastructure and the chance to rebuild a green economy at home.
More than anything, he wants Americans to become numb to the gun violence ravaging our communities every day.
That’s really what the border wall fight is about: a wasteful solution to a manufactured crisis that intoxicates his base and turns our service members into political pawns.
We cannot allow this President to turn our national security into some sick reality TV plot.
There are too many brave women and men who will be stuck in run-down facilities, and their families left without badly-needed schools, day cares and clinics.
For those still braving Dorian, please be safe. For those who want our servicemembers and their families kept safe, join us in speaking out for them and having their back.
As a proud American and Democrat, I certainly will.
God bless our armed forces and God bless America.