(CNSNews.com) - Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee went to the Senate floor on Monday and highlighted what she argued was the inappropriateness of the U.S. Pentagon focusing on a vaccine mandate while the Chinese were focuses on “defeating” the United States.
“And the Chinese Communist Party is doing the exact opposite of what the Pentagon is doing: They are focusing on readiness and building up their military,” Blackburn said.
“In June, they christened their first-ever aircraft carrier to be completely designed and developed in China,” she said. “Their goal is to increase their fleet by 40 percent by the end of 2040 and quadruple their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade. This is all consistent with Beijing's broader goal of becoming a military superpower.
“They are focused on global domination. They are focused on readiness. They are focused on defeating us,” said Blackburn. “Meanwhile, our Pentagon is focused on a vaccine mandate.”
Here is the full text of Blackburn’s speech:
Sen. Marsha Blackburn: “Mr. President, for the past 2 years, the COVID pandemic dominated every news cycle, and if the mainstream media is to be believed, it was the leading topic of conversation at every dinner table, whether it was Washington or Nashville or San Francisco.
“As the months wore on, it became glaringly obvious that, while the pandemic was a concern, people were less worried about the virus itself and more worried about how the Democrats were using it to justify one power grab after another.
“Even in the face of catastrophic inflation, the employment crisis, the failure of public education, and the slow creep of lethal opioids into rural communities, the Democrats chose power over progress every single time and, in doing so, abandoned their duty to the American people.
“And now, as this year draws to a close, my Democratic colleagues have declared that now it is time for everybody to just move on, move on from the pandemic. When Dr. Fauci appeared for a final press conference before his conveniently timed retirement, the White House made sure he wouldn't have to answer any questions on the origins of COVID-19.
“The talking heads in the mainstream media have spun the harm done to students by virtual schooling as a tragedy rather than the completely predictable effects of forced isolation on our precious children, and the White House remains determined to blame inflation and shortages in the energy market on Vladimir Putin.
“They want us to ignore their own self-proclaimed war on American energy independence. I suppose they think that if they just erase the mess that they have made from the daily talking points, the American people will just forget about it and move on. I hate to spoil their ending, but the American people are not ready for that. They want some answers. They will never ever forget the damage that these policies have done to their families and to their communities.
“Now, the left tried their best to frame the debates over lockdowns and mask mandates and vaccine mandates as conspiracy fodder, but we all found out, no, it was not; it was personal, especially after it became clear that control was the Democrats' end game. Yes, control over you, over your life, over your children, over their education, over student loans. Control is what they want.
“Now, the science changed but the narrative never did, and Tennesseans have noticed this. They have caught on to this. The ongoing fight over the military's vaccine mandate is particularly raw for Tennesseans because it is proof that the Democrats are willing to jeopardize our national security to score points against political rivals. This desire for power and control is in direct opposition to the Federal Government's sworn mission to provide for the defense of our Nation.
“This isn't a matter of opinion; it is a fact, confirmed by President Biden's chosen military commanders. This year, the number of new service members joining the ranks has hit an all-time low; so did academy applications for our Nation's prestigious military academies. The Army fell 15,000 soldiers short of their recruitment goal for 2022. The other services and the National Guard are also struggling.
“The Pentagon doesn't expect the situation to improve even for the next few years. The Army predicts they will be down 21,000 troops in 2023, and the National Guard says they are going to lose 14,000 soldiers by the end of 2024.
“The strongest, fastest, and most lethal fighting force on the planet is moving backward. Meanwhile, the new axis of evil, they are marching forward. We know for a fact that Tehran is sending drones and military equipment to Moscow to support Putin's war in Ukraine. North Korea is conducting ballistic missile tests that threaten South Korean sovereignty. And the Chinese Communist Party is doing the exact opposite of what the Pentagon is doing: They are focusing on readiness and building up their military.
“In June, they christened their first-ever aircraft carrier to be completely designed and developed in China. Their goal is to increase their fleet by 40 percent by the end of 2040 and quadruple their nuclear stockpile by the end of the decade. This is all consistent with Beijing's broader goal of becoming a military superpower.
“They are focused on global domination. They are focused on readiness. They are focused on defeating us. Meanwhile, our Pentagon is focused on a vaccine mandate. The strong men in control of Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea--that axis of evil--are notorious for their aggression, and none of them have bothered to keep their hatred of the United States of America a secret.
“The wolves are at the door, Mr. President, yet here we are, debating a military vaccine mandate that has zero--zero--basis in science or common sense. It will gut the ranks of the military and make us more vulnerable to the rising threat from the new axis of evil.
“This isn't just my opinion; it is another fact confirmed by the people President Biden trusts to lead our Nation's military. The Army confirmed in a November 4 press release that the vaccine mandate has already separated 1,796 Active-Duty soldiers from their service. Bear in mind, they raised their hand; they took an oath. They did this because they want to serve, protect, defend. And what has happened? What has happened to that service, to that loyalty? Look at what has happened. They are getting a slap across the face. As I said, 1,796 were shown the door because they would not take a COVID shot. They wouldn't take a shot. For the soldiers who remain, the Army has approved less than 4 percent of medical exemptions and just over 1 percent of religious exemptions. The Guard has only approved 15 percent of the medical exemptions and--get this--0.0047 percent of religious exemptions. And the Reserves, they have approved little more than 5 percent of their medical exemptions and 0.0044 percent of religious exemptions.
"Leader Schumer left Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday without acknowledging this manpower crisis in our military and without offering a clear answer on when we will take up the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
“Now that we are back in session, I would hope that he has a plan to stop dangling this bill over the heads of our service members and their families. But while we are waiting, I would like to offer a small improvement to what is already a very strong and bipartisan piece of legislation.
"Mr. President, as you know, the Senate Armed Services Committee finished their work on this bill back in June. When we were debating the NDAA in the Armed Services Committee, I introduced two amendments that would have protected service members from the arbitrary effects of the vaccine mandate. The first would prohibit the involuntary separation of any service member for refusing the COVID-19 shot until each service achieves its authorized end strength--good common sense.
“It is not saying you can't implement your mandate, just saying you can't do it until you have reached your goal, your recruitment and your retention goals.
“The Second Amendment would make sure that members of the National Guard or Reserve maintain access to both pay and benefits while their request for a medical or religious accommodation is pending.
“My Democratic colleagues on the Armed Services Committee killed these amendments, but I do hope they will change their mind and support them now that they have had the opportunity to hear from folks back home, to hear from our military, our Guard, our Reserves. I hope they will give this another look; but if they don't, they will have another opportunity to fix this mistake.
“I have combined the amendments into a single bill called the Preserving the Readiness of Our Armed Forces Act, and I would be happy to add each and every one of them as a cosponsor. As we begin what I am sure will be a mad dash to the end of the year, I want to encourage my Democratic colleagues to keep preserving readiness at the front of their mind.
“When the Pentagon first revealed this vaccine mandate, veterans, military experts, and Active-Duty service members up and down the ranks told us exactly what would happen if the Biden administration went through with this. And do you know what? They were accurate in their assessment. Because of the Democratic actions, this White House's actions, they have fired thousands of service members, and tens of thousands more are in jeopardy. Bear in mind, these are people who have chosen to serve. This chaos has prompted thousands of potential soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to decide against entering the service, and who knows how many will choose not to enter the National Guard.
“The Biden administration is digging in their heels at the worst possible time. The new axis of evil--they are on the rise, and they are counting on the rest of the world to remain complacent.
“Over the past few years, each of these nations has been exposed on the international stage as factories of repression, violence, and misery, but in the aftermath, nothing changed.
“Just last week, the CCP reminded us how little value they place on human life. Ten people in Xinjiang burned to death when their apartment building caught fire. The firefighters couldn't get to them in time because of the barricades CCP officials had constructed to enforce their zero-COVID policy.
“Protesters took to the streets and forced the international press to pay attention. In response, the CCP brutalized journalists, censored videos shot the night of the fire, and claimed that the residents who died were too weak to save themselves.
“I would remind my colleagues that these are the same officials who claimed that the Uighur Muslims are comfortable in their concentration camps, that the Tibetans welcomed ethnic cleansing, and that firing missiles at Taiwan is part of normal military operations. Exposure will not stop them. Outrage will not give them pause because they are on a quest for global domination, and they are not going to take a timeout because the Democrats in control of our government decided to prioritize a shot over our Nation's security.
“Let that sink in. They are going full steam ahead. They are increasing their military rights. They are building their navy. They are working to develop new missiles. And we are focused on removing military members because they will not take a shot. By the way, you can get vaccinated and boosted, and it doesn't keep you from getting COVID.
“Unfortunately, our adversaries have decided to take advantage of weak leaders in the White House and in Congress and to exploit our vulnerabilities until we force them to stop.
“Our military is not the only tool we use to keep this country safe, but it certainly has the power to be the most decisive, and I cannot think of anything more foolish than to sabotage it while the enemy watches and says: Look at America's priority.
“I yield the floor.”