Stephanie Murphy: Congress must exercise powers on national security

Stephanie Murphy

With the administration of President Donald Trump still not filling numerous positions in the U.S. Departments of State and Defense and not issuing a foreign policy statement, Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy said Wednesday

“As Secretary Albright has said, ‘It’s Article I time,'” Murphy said Wednesday morning, meeting with reporters before attending a private event at an English-language learning center in Orlando.

That reference was to comments former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright made at a June 21 meeting of the congressional Democrats’ national security task force, which Murphy chairs with U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, and Jimmy Paneta of California.

Murphy has been critical of the Trump White House’s national security, questioning its direction, and has sought to influence it several times with bills she introduced. She also joined a letter this spring urging Trump to submit a national security strategy statement to Congress, as required by law in the first 150 days. It still has not been submitted.

A member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former U.S. Department of Defense intelligence analyst, Murphy has taken other opportunities in her first six moths in Congress to flex her national security chops. Last week she was a panelist on a bipartisan national security committee speaking at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Security Forum.

Article I of the U.S. Constitution lays out the powers of Congress.

“Congress has to exercise the powers it has been granted in Article I, and we have oversight powers as well powers of the purse,” she said. “So we can engage robustly there. I think that it’s really important as a country we invest in all the elements of national power, and that’s diplomatic, intelligence, military and economic. Personnel and resources are a key part of that.”

“I also want to make sure we’re properly resourcing the Department of State, money as well as personnel,” she said. “I’d like to see some of those appointments put in place.”

Trump’s budget proposal recommended a 30 percent cut in that department’s funding. To date, few of the undersecretary or assistant secretary positions have been filled under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. A similar situation exists at the Departments of Defense and Commerce.

News reports also indicated Wednesday that Tillerson has declined to use $80 million appropriated by Congress for anti-propaganda programs targeting ISIS and Russia.

“At a time when we have seen unprecedented amount of interference in our Democracy from external forces, adversarial governments, it’s more important than ever that we provide the resources so that we can defend against those attacks,” she said.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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