A group of 18 combat vets who served America in various branches of military service, and who extended their service to America as GOP members of Congress, held a press conference Wednesday to protest the obstructionism against Kevin McCarthy, the GOP Leader, and Speaker nomination.
The group also included: Mike Waltz, Representative-Elect, Mike Gallagher, Indiana, Corey Mills, Rich McCormick, Georgia, Mike Garcia, Dan Crenshaw, Texas, Mike Garcia, Mike Garcia, Dan Crenshaw, Texas, Mike Bost, Illinois, John James, Scott Franklin, Scott Franklin, Trent Kelly, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Iowa, Brad Wenstrup, Ohio
It was a fascinating flex. Each speaker focused on their mission as an elected representative and said that the House would not function if it did not have a Speaker.
Waltz stated, “They know what it takes to be part of a team, and they understand what it means that it is to sacrifice.”
They know that more people are serving overseas than any British, Canadian, or Australian military combined. They know what it means for them to be worthy, and they will do whatever it takes to honor the sacrifices made by the men and women who were either unable or unwilling to return home with their limbs permanently altered upstairs.
“So, I’m going in just a second to give them their perspective on this.”
Waltz was the first to read news clips from authoritarian regimes in China and North Korea.
“Pointing out what’s happening in the House of Representatives, and saying look at democracy’s messiness, look at how it doesn’t work, and how it cannot function, in contrast to their authoritarian regime.”
Their solidarity was compelling and good-looking in optics. Waltz’s statements, taken from foreign newspapers, reflect how the battle in the House of Representatives looked to them.
Waltz gave the floor to Derrick Van Orden who then said:
“We [the people on stage] have 291 years of collective military service. We have spent many years serving our country proudly away from home”.
This is my uniform now. And I intend to serve the people of America. We want to be able to do the will of the people.
Van Orden concluded,
“Actually, it has been detrimental to our country, it is unacceptable”.
This group of veteran members-elect agrees that although the obstructionists do not represent the majority, they set the agenda and hinder the mission. Rich McCormick, a new Georgia Rep.
“Some people believe their way is the only one, but that’s not how we collectively represent.”
Texas’ Dan Crenshaw refocused his attention on the “mission” that they were assigned to, and this is what the American people truly care about.
“We cannot start that agenda until governing begins.”
John James used these terms as well.
“This Congress has 80 veterans. Sixty-two GOP members and the remainder, Democrats. We are currently unable to fulfill our mission for the American People.”
“We must all come together and acknowledge that mission and people should always be first.”
As a deterrent, the elected representatives continued to frame the “mission” and the obstructionism waged by the 20 Republicans who were holding up the nomination. Corey Mills from Florida spoke about the 13 Gold Star families that were left without closure after the failed withdrawal from Afghanistan. He couldn’t be sworn into office and the committees could not be formed.
“The American people care deeply about the 13 Gold Star members. This should matter to all 334,000,000 Americans. This is not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s not about either one or the other speaker. It’s all about finding answers, getting oversight, and holding those responsible for the deaths and injuries of real Americans accountable.”
Mike Bost, who was honored to stand alongside combat veterans, stressed that he was not a combat veteran. Bost also stressed that the Speaker cannot provide any assistance to veterans who are so desperate for it.
“We can’t organize or conduct our oversight, and we cannot hold Biden VA responsible”. “We cannot do our job to make sure our veterans get what they deserve”.
“Until we have a speaker, we can’t stop the administration and do our job as oversight under the Constitution. It has an effect on every single one of them who was served in the past.”
Mike Gallagher, Indiana, spoke out about not being allowed to meet in SCIFF (“Sensitive Compartmented Info Facility”) to conduct official business. He does not have security clearance. He cannot get the clearance until he has been officially sworn in.
“We have work that we can’t do right now. This Congress must restore deterrence and restore peace through strength. He said that we cannot do this important work until we get past the Speaker vote, fill our committees, and start this vital task.”
Mike Garcia from California spoke about 22 House rule package changes that were reached after weeks of negotiations. Meetings with 20 representatives who are still waiting for more led to changes.
“We have been through these processes and protocols,” Garcia stated, “We now ask everyone to respect this and move forward with the election”.
Waltz has this to say about Matt Gaetz, Florida’s role as an obstructionist.
“There are negotiations and there is holding the rest of the conference hostage. The obstructionists aren’t giving us anything specific. Both sides are digging deeper into their trenches, which is a disservice to the men and women who work in those trenches overseas and the American people who elected us.”
“We are losing more people to Fentanyl at our Southern border than we have in Vietnam. There is still much to be done. We are wasting our time and the American people deserve better.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks from Iowa assisted in concluding the representative statements by asking American citizens too.
“Give us your trust. We believe Kevin McCarthy [Kevin McCarthy] to be the best speaker at the moment.”
During questioning, Waltz concluded,
“We are the party of competition. We are the party of merits. We are not the party that holds 201 elected members captive. There are two things that matter: moving the country forward and moving the party ahead. If you get into your personal agendas, this is where you draw the line.”
John James put it best:
“We share a common vision to serve others. We can’t achieve that vision if we have people in our conference who put self-interest before service.”
— Jennifer OO (@joliveroconnell) January 4, 2023