WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks Thursday on the Senate floor regarding the Biden-Harris Administration's foreign policy and national defense pandemonium:
"The free world faces many serious threats, from rising authoritarians to resurgent terrorists. Even declining authoritarian powers like Russia pose significant challenges. These threats demand clear-eyed leadership from the world's greatest power.
"But earlier this week at the United Nations, President Biden didn't offer a rallying cry for the world to confront these threats. Instead, he tried to turn the page. Literally. He bragged that, 'I stand here today for the first time in 20 years, with the United States not at war. We've turned the page.' He further claimed that, 'We've ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan.'
"Well, that's news to the Afghans. For them the conflict continues. And for the terrorists as well. We may be turning the page, but they are not turning a new leaf.
"The Taliban-Haqqani government in Kabul is just getting started.
"Al-Qaeda and ISIS-K are not standing down in their fight against the West. Neither are Iran's murdering proxy forces across the Middle East.
"Theocratic killers will not simply disarm themselves because our president offered scripted platitudes to United Nations diplomats.
"To the extent they care about international norms, it's because they seek to destroy them. They will not be deterred by what our President calls 'relentless diplomacy.'
"Strangely — but fortunately — President Biden's rhetoric does not even match the actions his own Administration is taking.
"Indeed, the day before his speech, the United States targeted an al-Qaeda operative in a drone strike in Syria.
"The President pretends we aren't at war with terrorism — but neither his own team nor the terrorists believe him.
"Our unilateral retreat from Afghanistan did not magically usher in a truce with terrorists. It just left us much less able to monitor and combat them.
"The consequence of President Biden's slogan-driven policy is not that America's war is over. It's that America now has to fight with one hand tied behind our back.
"Back in April, the President's own CIA director warned this body that after retreating, '[our] ability to collect and act on threats will diminish... That is simply a fact.'
"In June, the Secretary of Defense told us that al-Qaeda could re-establish a safe haven and directly threaten our homeland within two years. This is back when the Administration still assumed we'd have responsible partners in charge in Afghanistan. Even then the Secretary said that al-Qaeda would reestablish a safe haven and threaten our homeland within two years. Certainly that timeline has now moved significantly up.
"So where do we go from here? What's next?
"The first step is to get some answers and create some accountability. As I've said before, the Administration must answer some tough questions – about both past failures and future plans.
"Secretary Austin needs to explain why he supported a policy that by his own admission would allow al-Qaeda to reestablish a safe haven. And we need an updated assessment of the threat we will face now that terrorists, rather than our partners, control Afghanistan.
"But that is just the start. America must reestablish the credible, relentless threat we once posed to terrorists in Afghanistan and beyond.
"The Taliban's shameful reclamation of Kabul has emboldened America's enemies all around the world. We cannot let them bank a propaganda victory. We must recapture the initiative.
"We can't retake the initiative with empty talk. This will take arrests and strikes. Visible demonstrations of our resolve.
"We must also repair our credibility with our allies and partners. America's resolve to lead the war on terror fight must be undoubted.
"This is a collective effort that will take support and contributions from partners all around the world.
"Deeper intelligence-sharing. Joint efforts to prevent extremists from traveling to safe havens in the first place. A willingness to repatriate and prosecute their citizens when they do go abroad to conduct terrorism.
"And we have to get past the radical left's passion for cutting our defense budget to the bone. President Biden already proposed to cut defense spending after inflation. I understand some House Democrats want to impose even further cuts from that number.
"Just this week, to appease a vocal fringe on the far left, House Democratic leadership left defensive assistance for our ally Israel and their Iron Dome on the cutting room floor.
"A few far-left radicals get veto power over purely defensive assistance for Israel? This is madness.
"So are the left's efforts to cut back the authorities that our military and intelligence professionals use to protect our homeland.
"So is the continued talk about emptying Guantanamo Bay.
"For goodness' sake, we just saw four of the five terrorists that President Obama sprung from Gitmo take up senior positions in the Taliban government.
"What a combined legacy. The Obama-Biden Administration let these terrorists out of prison and the Biden-Harris Administration let them retake an entire country.
"No, global wars do not simply end because a president's speechwriter says so. Wars end when America's enemies no longer threaten us. Unfortunately the Biden Administration's decisions to date have not brought that victory any closer."