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Senate Proceeding on May 28th, 2010 :: 0:21:05 to 0:38:20
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Roger F. Wicker

0:20:54 to 0:21:15( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: quorum call: the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi. a senator: i ask unanimous consent that the call for the quorum call be b the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wicker: and that i be allowed to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection.

Roger F. Wicker

0:21:05 to 0:38:20( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Roger F. Wicker

Roger F. Wicker

0:21:16 to 0:21:38( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: mr. wicker: mr. president, and members of theenate, yesterday the senate armed services committee completed its markup of the defense authorization bill. normally senators are asked to wait for a period of days until the report can be issued and the specifics are made public, but

Roger F. Wicker

0:21:39 to 0:21:59( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: the chairman yesterday clearly understood when we were -- when we were finished with business that there were two items dealing with social policy that would be widely known immediately, and so i speak on those topics today with the clear understanding that the

Roger F. Wicker

0:22:00 to 0:22:21( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: chair knows that these items will be talked about, as an exception to the general rule. yesterday the committee, i believe, made a very grave mistake with regard to the provision involving a repeal of the don't ask, don't tell policy.

Roger F. Wicker

0:22:22 to 0:22:42( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: this had been the policy since the days of the clinton administration. it has worked reasonably well, and i am opposed to the repeal of the don't ask, don't tell policy. but in february of this year,

Roger F. Wicker

0:22:43 to 0:23:04( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: secretary gates announced that a survey would be conducted with a view toward assessing whether or not this policy should be changed. there was a working group that was going to be established, a survey of service members and their families would be conducted, and this sury would

Roger F. Wicker

0:23:05 to 0:23:25( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: report -- this working group would report the results of this assessment by december of this year. at that point the congress and the administration would have additional information about how today's service members and their families would feel about the -- about a change which

Roger F. Wicker

0:23:26 to 0:23:46( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. this would of course be a dramatic change, but that was the policy. a number of us were skeptical about it, but that was the announced policy. now, somehow in the last few days that has changed, and a

Roger F. Wicker

0:23:47 to 0:24:09( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: so-called compromise has been put forward and adopted now by the committee and apparently by the house of representatives also that would say while the assessment is going on, which, as i said, mr. president, to end in december that we would vote

Roger F. Wicker

0:24:10 to 0:24:32( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: in this bill this summer, possibly in the next few weeks, to go ahead and repeal the don't ask, don't tell policy and then to allow the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to review the assessment in december and see wheth

Roger F. Wicker

0:24:33 to 0:24:54( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: indeed the enactment of the senate and house should go forward. this seems to be getting the cart before the horse. and i want to make several points here. this so-called compromise is not a compromise i. it is effect, for all intents

Roger F. Wicker

0:24:55 to 0:25:17( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: and purposes, a repeal of the don't ask, don't tell policy. giving the president and the two military people who are most answerable to him the authority to make this decision and pretend that they might decide

Roger F. Wicker

0:25:18 to 0:25:39( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: against it is a mockery and it's a fig leaf. does anyone doubt what their decision would be? after all, the president of the united states campaigned that he wanted to do away with the don't ask, don't tell policy. no question that he favors this.

Roger F. Wicker

0:25:40 to 0:26:00( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: the secretary of defense answers directly to him. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff answers directly to the pridenof the united states. it's foolhardy for anyone in this senate to suggest that there will be any decision other than the repeal of the don't ask, don't tell policy. it is said that these three people will wait for the

Roger F. Wicker

0:26:01 to 0:26:22( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: assessment to see what military members and their families think. i think congress has the authority to do this. congress should wait for the assessment. we might be surprised. we might be troubled by what the assessment shows.

Roger F. Wicker

0:26:23 to 0:26:44( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: but it is, as i said, a mockery to make the decision now in may or june or july and then look forward to an assessment which is due in december. what has changed? i would ask my fellow members, the american people, what has changed?

Roger F. Wicker

0:26:45 to 0:27:06( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: what brought about this sudden compromise over the past weekend, attaching this bit of social engineering to the national defense authorization bill, i think, frankly, a lot of americans, mr. president, are going to conclude that politics changed. you can look at real clear

Roger F. Wicker

0:27:07 to 0:27:28( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: politics that estimates that republicans may gain six seats in the november election. that would be before the december assessment is due. some people say republicans may gain eight to ten seats. that would change attitudes considerably with regard to don't ask, don't tell. it would allow the people of the

Roger F. Wicker

0:27:29 to 0:27:49( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: united states to be heard on this issue. and i think americans are justified in concluding that with this election looming, that's what changed. there's been no change in the national security needs to rush this process ahead and make

Roger F. Wicker

0:27:50 to 0:28:11( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: th-- get the cart before the horse and make the decision before the assessment is made. now, the point of view of those of us in the committee who voted against the lieberman amendment yesterday is supported by the heads of the four branches of

Roger F. Wicker

0:28:12 to 0:28:33( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: our service. they support the original plan of secretary gates announced in february to do an assessment and then to make a decision bas on what we find out in the assessment. here's a letter dated may 26, 2010, to senator john mccain

Roger F. Wicker

0:28:34 to 0:28:54( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: from george casey, general united states army, the chief of staff of the army. in this, he says to senator mccain that his views have not changed since his testimony. and i quote directly -- "i continue to support the review and time line offered by

Roger F. Wicker

0:28:55 to 0:29:16( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: secretary gates. i remain convinced that it is critically important to get a better understanding of where our soldiers and families are on this issue." yesterday, in their wisdom, members of the armed services committee decided that they knew

Roger F. Wicker

0:29:17 to 0:29:38( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: better than our soldiers and our families. general casey said we need to know whether this impacts on readiness and unit cohesion. he concludes by saying, "i also believe that repealing theaw before the completion of the review will be seen by the men and women of the army as a

Roger F. Wicker

0:29:39 to 0:29:59( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward." admiral gary ruffhead, the chief of naval operations in a letter to senator mccain dated may 26

Roger F. Wicker

0:30:00 to 0:30:20( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: says, among other things -- quote -- "i february about the importance of the comprehensive review that began in march. and is now well under way within the department of defense. we need this review to fully assess our force and carefully

Roger F. Wicker

0:30:21 to 0:30:42( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: examine potential impacts of a change in this law. the members of the armed services committee mr. president, yesterday said no, we disagree with admiral ruffhead, chief of naval operations. we don't need this review. we as the elected representatives of the 50 states are going to punt that decision

Roger F. Wicker

0:30:43 to 0:31:04( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: to someone whose mind is already made up. the admiral goes on to say, "i have spoken with sailors and fellow flag officers alike about the importance of conducting the review in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. in this quick reversal that

Roger F. Wicker

0:31:05 to 0:31:26( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: occurred just yesterday in the armed services committee, we abandoned the thoughtful review. now, general james t. conway, commandant of the marine corps, said to senator mccain in a letter of 2010, "during testimony i spoke of the

Roger F. Wicker

0:31:27 to 0:31:47( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: confidence i had as a service chief in the d.o.d. working group that secretary gates laid out in the wake of president obama's guidance on don't ask, don't tell. i felt that an organized and systematic approach on such an important issue was precisely the way to develop the best

Roger F. Wicker

0:31:48 to 0:32:10( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: military advice." he goes on to say, "i encourage the congress to let the process the secretary of defense created run its course. the commandant of -- run its course." the commandant of the marine corps. finally a letter by norton a. schwarz, chief of staff of the

Roger F. Wicker

0:32:11 to 0:32:32( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: air force, says, "my position remains that d.o.d. should conduct a review that carefully investigates and evaluates the facts and circumstances, the potential implications, the possible complications and potential mitigations to repealing this law."

Roger F. Wicker

0:32:33 to 0:32:54( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: all four of our service heads were explicit in asking the committee to let the process continue, and yet in our wisdom, with an election looming, the commite voted with a majority vote to go ahead and say we really don't care to hear what

Roger F. Wicker

0:32:55 to 0:33:16( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: the assessment said. we're just going to let three people make that decision on their own. i have this question for members of the senate who will be asked to vote on this after the break. what if the assessment comes back and says that soldiers and

Roger F. Wicker

0:33:17 to 0:33:37( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: marines in significant numbers are not willing to continue in a voluntary service under these conditions? what if that's the result of the assessment, that it will be too late for the members of the house and senate to make a change in this policy?

Roger F. Wicker

0:33:38 to 0:34:00( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: the time to take a pause and the time to see what our members actually think is now. you know, we can force this on the services, but in a voluntary armed force, we cannot force members to enlist. we cannot force marines who are

Roger F. Wicker

0:34:01 to 0:34:22( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: putting their lives on the line for what they believe is the american way of life and for our freedom and for the security of all amerins, we can't force them to re-enlist when their time is up. we need to know if they are going to be willing to stay in the service and to make that commitment and to put themselves

Roger F. Wicker

0:34:23 to 0:34:46( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: in harm's way under this very drastic, dramatic change. we should not substitute our judgment for what the members of the service and their families think. and i -- i regret that we have gone this far and regret the action of the armed services committee.

Roger F. Wicker

0:34:47 to 0:35:07( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: there is one other issue that -- that was regrettably voted on in the affirmative by the committee yesterday, and that's with regard t abortion policy. since 1996, we have had a policy that abortions -- elective

Roger F. Wicker

0:35:08 to 0:35:29( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: abortions will not be performed on our military installations. this is a policy that was passed by the house and senate and signed into law by a democratic president, by president clinton. and for the past 14 years, it has been our policy that elective abortions will not be

Roger F. Wicker

0:35:30 to 0:35:53( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: performed in our military installations. the committee yesterday decided to reverse this long-standing poli and to say that indeed abortions, for whatever reason, will be performed in these facilities that are paid for by taxpayer expense that are there for the care of our service

Roger F. Wicker

0:35:54 to 0:36:15( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: members to keep them healthy and to repair their injuries. we're going to use those facilities for elective abortions. if this amendment stands -- and i guarantee you it will be challenged on the floor of the house and senate, with separate amendments. members will be given a chance

Roger F. Wicker

0:36:16 to 0:36:37( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: to vote on this separate issue. but if this stands, our military installations, fort bragg, columbus air force base, kiesler air force base in my home state of mississippi, their medical facilities will be able to be used for abortions performed

Roger F. Wicker

0:36:38 to 0:36:59( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: late term, abortions performed for purposes of sex selecti, abortions performed for any reason. abortion at will will be the requirement for our military installations and the medical facilities on those installations.

Roger F. Wicker

0:37:00 to 0:37:20( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: again, another piece of social engineerg, another vast and serious and consequential departure from long-standing department of defense policy. i regret these two positions. i call on my colleagues,

Roger F. Wicker

0:37:21 to 0:37:42( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: mr. president, during this memorial day break when we're talking to those who have served, put themselves in harm's way, we're talking to the families of those who provided -- who have given the ultimate sacrifice, that we seriously consider whether the

Roger F. Wicker

0:37:43 to 0:38:03( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: committee has made the right decision, and that we come back to washington, d.c. with a determination to reverse these two very harmful and, in my view, mistaken actions by the armed services committee. with that, i wish my friend, the

Roger F. Wicker

0:38:04 to 0:38:22( Edit History Discussion )

Roger F. Wicker: president pro tempore of the senate, a happy and prosperous memorial day, and i absence of a quorum. the presidin will call the

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