WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding investments in the U.S. defense industrial base:
“America’s example and the threats posed by Russia and China are leading major allies and partners in Europe and Asia to step up their commitments to collective security and dramatically increase investments in their own defense.
“It’s worth pointing out once again that the United States is not shouldering the burden for European free-riders. In fact, when it comes to security assistance to Ukraine as a share of GDP, fourteen of our European allies are actually giving more.
“Lithuania – a small nation by any measure – has sent tens of thousands of rifles, handguns, and grenade launchers and millions of rounds of ammunition. Denmark and Estonia have sent their entire inventory of certain critical artillery.
“Larger allies like the United Kingdom and France are making remarkable contributions themselves, including longer-range systems than the United States has provided.
“Even Germany, despite slow and sometimes agonizing decision-making, has provided historic support to Ukraine and is the continent’s largest provider of security assistance to Ukraine.
“And Europe has more than doubled American economic and humanitarian assistance, not to mention the massive cost of hosting millions of Ukrainian refugees.
“But like America, our allies are not in the business of philanthropy. As far away as Tokyo and Seoul, leaders are making a sober calculation about their interests. Our friends are making historic new investments in growing their arsenals and modernizing their militaries.
“More than half of our NATO allies are now on track to hit the alliance’s 2% spending target by the end of next year.
“Sweden, not yet a full-fledged NATO member, is increasing its defense spending next year by nearly 30% to invest in modern military capabilities and meet its 2% of GDP target.
“Lithuania, which spent less than 1% of its GDP on defense back in 2014, is set to spend over 2.5% next year.
“And to bolster their security, many of our allies are buying American. Since Russia’s escalation began last February, our allies and partners across the globe have purchased over $120 billion in advanced, American-made weapons systems.
“Germany, Switzerland, Finland, and the Czech Republic have all moved quickly to sign contracts to purchase F-35s.
“Indonesia has signed up for nearly $14 billion in F-15 fighter aircraft made in St. Louis, Missouri. Bulgaria – an economy roughly the size of Maine – has spent $1.5 billion on Stryker combat vehicles that are produced in Lima, Ohio and Anniston, Alabama. And Poland has ordered $12 billion worth of Apache helicopters produced in Mesa, Arizona, and is planning to buy 486 HIMARS launchers – they will have the biggest HIMARS inventory in the world.
“And here’s the most important part: When our friends and allies buy American, they’re buying into a closer security relationship with the United States. They’re building more interoperable militaries to strengthen deterrence. And they’re also lowering costs for the American taxpayer as we rebuild our capabilities. They are sharing the burden of collective defense.
“These investments are not a coincidence. They are a demonstration of the confidence our allies have in American leadership. But make no mistake: that confidence is perishable.
“As we saw with the disastrous retreat from Afghanistan, America can lose trust far more quickly than we can earn it. If we pull the plug on our commitment to stand with Europe – our largest trading partner – I can guarantee it will shred our credibility as a security partner worldwide.
“It will make it harder to convince our allies to stand together against Chinese aggression – the single biggest threat to our own security and prosperity.”