Your Say

YOUR SAY: Why I'm supporting Sen. Marco Rubio for president

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks a rally Friday in Dallas, where he read Donald Trump’s tweets off his cell phone.
Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio speaks a rally Friday in Dallas, where he read Donald Trump’s tweets off his cell phone. Associated Press

As I drove away from the caucus in Pella, Iowa where I gave a nomination speech on behalf of Marco Rubio, my cousin sent me a pretty simple text. "Talk me into voting for Rubio over Cruz or Trump."

Knowing she is a supporter of our men and women in uniform, I thought I would just let the truth convince her. You see she calls from time to time with the same concerns that every soldier's mom has about the impact of the President's underfunding of our military and the cost of those cuts born by soldiers and their families.

After years of being underfunded, our men and women in uniform must now contend with mounting threats to our national security from ISIS, from a newly aggressive Russia, and from an increasingly assertive China. So it's no surprise that many politicians are suddenly claiming that they will help restore America's military strength. Trouble is, their records often don't support these claims.

It's clear that the federal government's spending must be kept in check, but there is a difference between sensible and prudent reforms and across the board cuts, which is why I voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011. The passage of the BCA had real consequences here in Georgia: it led to a reduction in training hours for A-10 pilots at Moody Air Force Base, a delay in the recapitalization of our J-STARS at Robins, and threatened thousands of jobs throughout the state.

One of the few tools Congress has to protect our military from the devastating cuts that President Obama supports is the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual bill written by the Armed Services committees that helps ensure that our soldiers get paid and that military facilities and equipment stay up and running. Both Sen. Cruz and I serve on the Armed Services committees in Washington, so voting for this bill should be a no-brainer for both of us. But, senators like Cruz and Bernie Sanders always choose to prioritize their politics over our military by voting against it, year after year.

Over the past several years, NDAAs have included many provisions that have a real impact here in Georgia. The 2014 version of the bill provided funding for the construction of a ground vehicle fueling facility at Moody Air Force Base and for a needed weapons storage and inspection facility at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. In 2015, the bill provided $27.7 million for the Air Force Reserve Consolidated Complex at Robins Air Force Base, and in 2016 it provided nearly $20 million for critical maintenance equipment and facilities at both Moody and Albany.

What's more, recent NDAAs have prohibited the president's priorities to close additional military bases, and outlawed the transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to the United States. The impact of additional base closures in our communities would be devastating; the combined economic impact of Robins and Moody Air Force Bases alone exceeds $3.5 billion. Make no mistake: votes against these bills were votes against the thousands of military and civilian Defense Department families that call our state home, and our national security.

In addition to voting against the NDAAs, Cruz supported a bill in 2013 to cut military spending to levels below those proposed by President Obama. What our men and women in uniform need in these trying times are clear, specific solutions that will help ensure that they remain part of the most powerful armed forces the world has ever known, one that is ready to take on challenges from Islamic terrorism to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, from training our A-10 pilots and recapitalizing our J-STARS, to ensuring that we protect Georgia's military facilities.

That's why I'm backing Marco Rubio for President. Of all the candidates, he offers the most concrete and sensible solutions for getting our military back on track, and -- as importantly -- his record shows that he understands what's important for Georgia's military families. While in the Senate, he helped lead an effort to increase defense spending in fiscal year 2016 to the levels recommended by former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and the bipartisan National Defense Panel. He has promised to return Air Force readiness to pre-Obama levels and to modernize our nuclear arsenal, and to keep the size of our military in line with the level of challenges that we are facing abroad.

We have a choice in this election, one between a new American century of leadership in the world or letting others take the lead; one between finally addressing our challenges head-on or just talking about them and hoping for the best. To protect America's place in the world and the vitality of Georgia's economy and its men and women in uniform, we need to be sure that our next president has the record and the knowledge that give us confidence in his or her ability to lead. Our economy, our military, and our national security depend on us making the right choice.

For my family and me that choice is Marco Rubio.

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott represents Georgia's Eighth Congressional District.