U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow is one of the Senate’s most effective leaders, representing the State of Michigan with distinction. As Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and as a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Energy Committee, she has a powerful and unique role to play in shaping our nation’s manufacturing, health care, finance, and agriculture policies, which are so critical to our future. She serves as Co-Chair of the bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus.

Senator Stabenow has played leading roles in supporting our auto industry, manufacturing industries and agricultural interests through turbulent times and is guiding public policy to grow manufacturing here in Michigan and across the United States. Senator Stabenow knows the importance of the defense industry and national security assets in Michigan and has emerged as an important advocate for these sectors.  September 2nd and 3rd, she led a delegation of her colleagues in a tour of Michigan’s defense facilities.

The Michigan Defense Center thanks Senator Stabenow for her leadership on behalf of Michigan’s Homeland Security and defense interests.

Senator Stabenow, please tell our readers about your new role as Michigan’s senior senator.

As Michigan’s new senior senator, I’m pleased to be bringing together the Michigan delegation to work on areas where we all have common interests, like protecting our Great Lakes and supporting Michigan’s military installations and missions vital to our nation’s security. The retirement of Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was a major loss for Michigan. While members like Congressmen Upton and Levin and Congresswoman Miller have represented bases and assets in their districts for years, we also have several new faces in our delegation. Because of this, I organized a delegation tour of Michigan’s military installations earlier this month with Congressman Fred Upton, the senior Republican in our delegation. This created an opportunity for a bipartisan group of Michigan’s Congressional leaders to see and fully understand the important role Michigan plays in our nation’s defense.

What did you hope to accomplish with this tour?

This tour gave members a chance to learn about Michigan’s defense assets throughout our state and how our delegation can partner to best advocate for them in Washington. This is critical to not only protect our current missions but to also identify new opportunities that will grow Michigan’s defense industry and create jobs.  Our state is recognized as a premier hub for Department of Defense procurement activities and as a leader in defense research and technology solutions. Having visited all of our bases myself, I knew that the tour would be a great way to demonstrate the critical work that’s happening right here on the ground. This tour also stressed the importance of keeping Michigan’s bases open and operating. Despite calls from the Administration to initiate another Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) process, the Senate has not agreed to another BRAC process for 2016.

Can you please share an update on the DoD budget and the impacts of sequestration? What can Michigan’s defense leaders do to resolve this issue in Congress?

The budget and sequestration are looming issues for the defense industry and Congress. Working together on a bipartisan budget agreement is the only real way we can bring an end to defense sequester cuts. We did this effectively two years ago when the Chairs of the Senate and House Budget Committees created a two-year bipartisan agreement on spending.  That needs to happen again. Without a bipartisan solution that responsibly funds all parts of our homeland security as well as our economic security, we face a Continuing Resolution or worse, a government shutdown. There is no reason for this to happen.  We need everyone to advocate for a bipartisan agreement as soon as possible.

What are some of the recent actions that you have taken in support of Michigan’s defense assets?

In addition to bringing the delegation together for this base tour, I have worked closely with leaders in Michigan to keep and create defense jobs in our state. Earlier this year, I met with all of the Michigan National Guard base commanders and General Bingham at TACOM Lifecycle Management Command. I joined with Congressman Upton to lead a letter signed by the entire delegation urging the U.S. Department of Defense to name the 110th Attack Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard in Battle Creek as the location of a new Cyber Operations Squadron, which would add more than 50 jobs to the region.

Additionally, I’ve fought to protect Selfridge Air National Guard Base’s A-10 fleet, which is important for Michigan’s economy and our nation’s security. I’m pleased to say our A-10s are safe for another year after leading letters to President Obama and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense urging full funding for the A-10 program.

I have also made funding DoD research a priority. As you know, this funding is critical to support the excellent work being done by our great universities, businesses, and government labs.

img04Here in Michigan we have a competitive edge thanks to the Michigan Defense Center’s Protect and Grow Initiative. I applaud this key initiative for bringing together all stakeholders, recognizing Michigan’s national security strengths, focusing on potential growth areas, and developing a shared strategy to protect and grow our state’s multi-billion dollar defense industry.