“This ability to generate combat power that can strike anywhere on the map is a testament to the professionalism of the 28th Bomb Wing’s aircrews and maintainers. And it also underscores the importance of preserving this capability now and well into the future so that we can deter threats and hold adversaries accountable.”
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the strikes last Friday against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria. Thune stressed the need for a forceful response to the attacks against American troops in the Middle East and commended the men and women who carried out Friday’s strikes, including the airmen from the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, an early report suggests that the Biden administration may have set another record at our southern border – and not the good kind.
“If this early report is accurate, the number of migrant encounters at our southern border in January is the highest January number ever recorded.
“That, of course, would follow December’s record-breaking number of migrant encounters – a staggering 302,034.
“That’s not only the highest December number ever recorded, but the highest number for any month ever recorded.
“Before that, of course, there was September’s record-breaking number.
“And the list goes on.
“Mr. President, the Biden administration has presided over a truly unprecedented crisis at our nation’s border.
“We have had three years of record-breaking illegal immigration under the Biden administration.
“Fiscal year 2021 saw a record-breaking 1,734,686 migrant encounters at our southern border.
“Then fiscal year 2022 broke that record.
“And then fiscal year 2023 broke that record.
“And they didn’t break that 2021 record by a small margin, either.
“Fiscal year 2023 exceeded fiscal year 2021 by a staggering 740,000-plus encounters.
“And, Mr. President, if the current trajectory continues, it is likely that fiscal year 2024 will break the record yet again.
“All told, since President Biden took office there have been more than 7 million migrant encounters at our southwest border.
“And that’s just counting the individuals who were stopped by Customs and Border Protection.
“Since January 2021, when President Biden took office, there have been more than 1.7 million known gotaways – individuals the Border Patrol saw but was unable to apprehend.
“And we have no idea how many unknown gotaways there have been over the same period.
“Mr. President, I could keep throwing out numbers all day.
“But needless to say, my point is this:
“The situation at our southern border is a disaster.
“It is unprecedented, and it is untenable.
“And we have to get this crisis under control.
“Mr. President, I am thankful for Senator Lankford’s efforts to address the chaos at our southern border.
“Senator Lankford has spent months now working to develop serious border security reforms, and his work has further highlighted the ways the Biden administration has invited illegal immigration and undermined security at our nation’s border.
“The worst border crisis on record will be a defining feature of President Biden’s legacy, in addition to the high costs of inflation imposed on American families and the weakening of America’s standing on the world stage.
“Mr. President, I also want to take a moment to comment on Friday’s strikes against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria.
“Last week I called on the president to take decisive action in response to the more than 165 attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and in the Red Sea, including the tragic death of three soldiers in Jordan.
“The president’s half-measures had failed with deadly consequences, and a forceful response was overdue.
“And the president must continue to take the necessary measures to protect our troops abroad and to maintain freedom of navigation in the Red Sea.
“Mr. President, I’d specifically like to commend the men and women of the 28th Bomb Wing, which is based in South Dakota at Ellsworth Air Force Base, but now has a contingent of about 250 airmen operating out of Dyess Air Force Base while our airfield is closed.
“The 28th Bomb Wing not only participated in Friday’s strike against 85 targets, but it did so flying what’s known as a CONUS-to-CONUS mission – that is, taking off from American soil, hitting overseas targets, and returning to base in a single, marathon flight.
“This ability to generate combat power that can strike anywhere on the map is a testament to the professionalism of the 28th Bomb Wing’s aircrews and maintainers.
“And it also underscores the importance of preserving this capability now and well into the future so that we can deter threats and hold adversaries accountable.
“Global reach – any time, any place.
“The B-21 bomber, which was unveiled last year and is set to make Ellsworth its first home for Main Operating Base 1 later this decade, will begin a new era of American air power.
“But until that 6th generation bomber is fielded, we need to continue full support for programs like the B-1.
“And I will continue to do everything I can here in Congress to support both the B-1 and B-21 missions, and the men and women who are behind their success.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”