As a former Navy pilot, I’m honored to sit on the House Armed Services Committee, and I am proud of the role that New Jersey plays in our national defense.
Since 1880, Picatinny Arsenal has been a hub for innovation and technological advances. It is an economic hub for New Jersey, contributing over a billion dollars to our state’s economy and our defense manufacturing sector. I’ll always fight for Picatinny and the more than 6,000 jobs it supports right here in the 11th District, and each year I’ve been in Congress, I’ve fought to protect Picatinny programs and expand its mission. Sitting on the Armed Services Committee, I was able to significantly increase funding for Picatinny over the proposed budget to ensure the base remains the Army’s leading research institution for armaments and ammunition. I also secured accreditation for Picatinny Arsenal’s graduate school so it can strengthen the cutting-edge research that keeps our service members safe in the field.
Beyond supporting the critical research and development programs at Picatinny, I am also proud to support the many defense technology companies that call NJ-11 home and are on the cutting edge of modernizing our Armed Forces. Many of my provisions in the FY23 National Defense Authorization Act support funding for our local defense industrial base and businesses.
As the threats our nation faces evolve — whether it is cyberwar or sophisticated enemy weapons — we need to ensure that our national security evolves to meet new threats. I’m proud of the work I’ve done on the House Armed Services Committee to push us in the right direction, away from outdated practices and towards a more nimble national defense.
As a Russian policy officer in the U.S. Navy, I worked to implement our nuclear treaty obligations and to plan and execute joint naval exercises with the Russian Federation Navy. I have sat across the table from the Russians, and know the threat they pose should be taken seriously. Both Russia and China have continued to build their military might and promote their influence across the globe. Neither country shares our values and often they are undermining our interests across the world. We must ensure we modernize our military to meet this threat and provide critical funding for cybersecurity and election protection.
Putin instigated an unprovoked attack against Ukraine — a sovereign, democratic nation. He has attempted to rewrite history and has unleashed propaganda and disinformation in pursuit of his clear desire to rebuild the Soviet Union’s so-called sphere of influence. This year, I traveled twice to Ukraine, once in January before Putin’s invasion and again in July. I met with President Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials about the support they need from us and imparted to them the fierce support in New Jersey — home to one of the largest Ukrainian American communities in the country — for their independence and democracy.
We secured emergency funding through a bipartisan package to support the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom. American weapons support has made a tangible difference in the Ukrainians’ ability to hold off Russian aggression, including the M-777 Howitzer, developed here at Picatinny Arsenal.
A growing and urgent threat to our national security is the climate crisis which is contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources, such as water and land. It impacts our military readiness. On the Armed Services Committee, I have championed efforts to prioritize climate change at the Department of Defense. In order to reach our nation’s climate goals, we must get our military — one of America’s top consumers of fossil fuels — to net zero. My legislation to install microgrids on 100 percent of military installations by 2035, achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free power generation by 2040, and conduct research into how we can use natural infrastructure to reduce our installations’ carbon footprint is included in the 2022 defense bill.
I am also concerned about national security threats here at home. The federal government has broadly failed to respond to the growing threat of domestic terrorism over the past two decades. I supported the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022, which would better equip our law enforcement with information related to possible attacks and their relationship with hate crimes.