I’ve spent much of my career defending our nation – first, in an Army uniform during two Iraq deployments, and then for three and a half years in the Pentagon as an acting Assistant Secretary of Defense. America enjoys safety and security that is unparalleled in the world thanks to our military, intelligence agencies, and other public servants that work tirelessly to keep it that way. Yet, we’ve been a country at war for over 16 years in an unsustainable manner, and face threats around the world.

Congressional Action

As a co-equal branch of government, Congress must not cede the responsibility of ultimately putting our military in harm’s way to the President alone. Congress must shape our national security strategy and determine how we use our military, an all-volunteer force, throughout the world. Congress must also check the executive branch from entering into unnecessary conflicts. I will lead the effort to hold the President accountable as Commander-in-Chief to ensure that we only place our service members into harm’s way when it is absolutely necessary.

Military Spending and Readiness

When it comes to military spending, I believe that the only way to maintain a strong and sustainable military force without unending costs is to use it more wisely. The cost of the Global War on Terror, beyond the human toll of those that have given their lives in service, will exceed $3 trillion dollars. We can have a strong military when we more judiciously choose when to use it instead of measuring it by its size or its cost. Congress has an enormous role in checking these costs, as well as the costs of a Defense Department, which is still not auditable. I will lead an effort to fund a military that is strong and ready to confront our most dangerous threats, but also a military whose costs do not continually escalate and strain domestic spending. There are more than 48,000 military veterans in Minnesota’s 1st District, many of whom personally and intimately know the consequences of war. They also know that at the end of the day, each service member is measured by their ability to do their job. I will fight for legislation that allows and encourages anyone that can meet the military’s standards to serve, including immigrants and the LGBTQ community. Our military is strongest when it reflects our broader society, and in the age of a 16-year war, we must have the widest net possible to recruit patriotic young people into service.

Diplomacy and Cooperation First

The challenges that we face today, both domestic and abroad, are constantly evolving and require a thoughtful and rounded approach to policy-making. I will urge Congress to prioritize our safety at home, defend our allies abroad, and be constantly looking for new partners with whom we can tackle the greatest hurdles in front of us. Our nation will be secure when we holistically approach the dangerous threats that exist in the world through diplomacy, international cooperation, while maintaining a careful balance to address our challenges at home.