Senator David Vitter (R-LA) has offered an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S. 3001) to increase the money allocated to the Missile Defense Agency by $271 million. The amendment is under consideration by the Senate at this time. The funds to be provided by this amendment will be distributed among a variety of missile defense programs. These programs include Aegis cruiser modification for missile defense, steps to reduce technical risk in the Standard Missile-3 sea-based missile defense interceptor, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and targets for conducting future tests of the Ground-Based Midcourse system. This amendment, therefore, would partially offset a $411 million cut in funding for the Missile Defense Agency imposed by the Senate Armed Services Committee in the bill. The funding provided to the Missile Defense Agency by the Vitter amendment is offset by reductions in other areas of the defense budget.

It is important for the Senate to remember that the restoration of Missile Defense Agency funding proposed by the Vitter amendment is to go toward protecting the American people and American allies against missile attack. It is the solemn obligation of the federal government to provide for the defense of the American people.

Not surprisingly, recent polling shows that the American people are demanding protection specifically against the threat of missile attack. A poll conducted at the behest of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance in July reveals that 87 percent of the American public believes that the U.S. should have a missile defense system with the ability to counter missiles that threaten U.S. territory and that may be armed with weapons of mass destruction. Two in three of those surveyed think the system should protect U.S. allies. It is time for America to adopt a defense posture that actually defends and moves away from the Cold War policy that would leave America and its allies vulnerable to attack by relying on threats to retaliate. The Vitter amendment represents a step in the direction of a policy for protecting and defending the people, territory, institutions and infrastructure of the U.S. and its allies against attack.