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Rob Wittman's Weekly Update

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Washington, October 26, 2015 | comments

During these past couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about leadership and what it means to be a leader. According to Douglas MacArthur, leadership is about integrity. “A true leader,” he said, “has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” As individuals, we aspire to live up to that standard every day, but what does that look like for countries operating in a global environment? What does it mean for the United States to be a leader?

For one thing, leadership means that we take care of our men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much for us, on and off the battlefield. It means, as Reagan said, that we “prepare for peace” by maintaining a well-trained and well-equipped military force to stave off would-be aggressors like ISIS, Russia, and China. It means that we fulfill our commitment of assurance to Israel and our other allies. And it means that we encourage innovation and industry on the home front by taking care of the federal civilian workers and companies that provide services to support our national security efforts. That’s what the annual defense policy legislation, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), for fiscal year 2016 does.

Two weeks ago, Congress fulfilled its constitutional duty under Article I, Section 8 by passing the NDAA. Despite strong bipartisan support, the President followed through with his threat to veto the bill marking the first time in our national history that an administration has withheld necessary funding for our military in order to advance domestic policy. Making sure our service members are able to operate in the safest conditions possible and providing them with the resources and benefits they need to take care of their families is not only a baseline requirement for national leadership, it’s our duty. The President was remiss to neglect that obligation.

In the international theater, leadership means energy and economic independence. That’s why I co-sponsored H.R. 702, a bill that would lift the arbitrary ban on crude oil exports to more accurately reflect the state of our crude oil store and global market conditions.  In the last weeks, the House passed H.R. 702, but Senate Democrats have blocked the bill. In the event that it does pass the Senate, President Obama has again threatened to weaken our national security by vetoing the legislation. Crude oil exports from the United States would mean that our ally nations have an alternative energy source and no longer have to depend on adversary countries for their oil supply. This bill not only creates economic opportunity, it makes us safer, and it makes us a better ally to nations who support our national interests. Again, I’ve urged Senate Democrats and the President to consider what is at stake and support this bill. 

Perhaps the most publicized kind of leadership, since Speaker John Boehner announced his intent to resign at the end of this month and Kevin McCarthy withdrew from the race for the Speakership, has been House Leadership. I believe that it’s time for Republicans to come together and elect leaders who will stand strong behind our military, support a healthy economy, and make sure that our country is moving in a direction that we can be proud of. Our nation is facing real issues like the debt, the deficit, and partisan gridlock, and the next Speaker of the House needs to be someone who moves us forward and helps us deal with these issues in a timely and thoughtful way. As MacArthur said, a leader is made through “the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” The next Speaker of the House should be someone who empowers Members so that the best conservative ideas stand a chance of making their way to the forefront. 

I know that the best ideas do not come from Washington D.C. but from the great folks in Virginia’s First District, and I hope that you will continue to contact me with your thoughts about how we, as a nation, can move forward. I look forward to hearing from you.

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