Lawmakers Form Missile Defense Caucus, Aim To Rescue ABL Funding
A group of lawmakers has formed the Missile Defense Caucus to step up pressure for adequate funding of programs in the emergent U.S. shield against enemy missiles.
The group was formed after the House slashed funds for continued development of the Airborne Laser system that will demolish enemy missiles in their vulnerable phase just after they launch. The House provided only $299 million, far less than the $549 million that President Bush requested.
Other ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs taking hits included the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, the other boost-phase missile killer.
The caucus members include many Republicans and a few Democrats.
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a co-chair of the caucus, cited two crucial points:
The United States is threatened by rogue nations with increasing missile capabilities and weapons of mass destruction, nations that aren’t deterred by the threat of massive retaliation.
And it is a fact that ballistic missile defense works. It isn’t some unrealistic concept, but rather a proven reality, Franks said.
“Sixteen of the last 17 flight tests have been successful, there have been Aegis intercepts, THAAD intercepts, successful in-flight tests of the Airborne Laser Targeting System, and a successful intercept of a target with a long-range interceptor,” Franks observed.
He spoke after the Missile Defense Agency racked up two successful tests in as many weeks. (Please see full story in this issue.)
Franks argued that this is no time to dither in the face of a threat, and there is no time to waste.
“We do not know when or if our enemies will launch short or long-range missiles or perhaps even an electromagnetic pulse attack aimed at harming our friends, warfighters or those living in the continental United States,” Franks said. “Accordingly, we must continue to modernize our systems, stay ahead of the threat, and develop a robust and layered missile defense that will be capable of interdicting missiles in their boost, midcourse, and terminal phases of flight.”
Members of Congress committed to the caucus pro-BMD mission statement include Franks, co-chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), co-chairman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Dana Rohbacher (R-Calif.), Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Thaddeas McCotter (R-Mich.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), John Kline (R-Minn.), Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-Wash.), Ray Lahood (R-Ill.), Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.), Todd Akin (R-Mo.), Wally Herger (R-Calif.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss), Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), Tom Price (R-Ga.), Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), Phil English (R-Pa.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), John Barrett (R-S.C.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Ric Keller (R-Fla.), John Culberson (R-Texas), Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), co-chairman Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), Robert E. “Bud” Cramer (D-Ala.), and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).