The threats to American national security are greater than they have been in decades. Because of President Biden’s weak leadership, our nation’s enemies are emboldened. Following our disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban rule once more – free again to harbor terrorists who plot attacks against our homeland. Putin and Russia are invading democratic Ukraine, which has led to the activation of 5,000 troops from Ft. Bragg. China now has powerful hypersonic missiles, a growing nuclear arsenal, and threatens to invade Taiwan. And recently, a terrorist slipped into our country and held a Texas synagogue hostage at gunpoint while demanding the release of a notorious Al-Qaeda prisoner.

President Biden’s failure to lead has made America less safe and now he is applying the Democrats’ misguided logic of “defund the police” to cut our military’s budget.

North Carolina is the lynchpin to our nation’s security. We have one of the largest military footprints in the United States and are home to the Joint Special Operations Command and our nation’s global rapid response forces. We are also home to more than 10% of the Army, the largest Marine Corps base on the East Coast and the DOD’s main ammo shipment terminal in southern Wilmington. We host fourteen state-of-the-art military bases and assets, including Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, that keep our military trained and ready for combat.

Our bases also serve as an economic bedrock to communities – the military provides $66 billion to our state’s economic activity. Businesses in 83 of 100 North Carolina counties were awarded defense contracts. Our state ranks 4th in the nation for the number of people hired by the DOD – the military directly employs well over 100,000 North Carolinians as active-duty personnel, and more than 700,000 veterans call our state home. Each of those jobs in turn supports spouses, parents, and children and they make our communities stronger, safer, and more prosperous.

Providing for the common defense is the most important responsibility of the federal government under the Constitution, and the Biden administration is falling behind in this task. Our top military commanders under both President Trump and President Biden have testified we could lose the next war and need to increase our defense spending to meet growing threats. Yet President Biden’s latest budget increased spending 5% or more for every Department except the two tasked with protecting Americans: the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Even with an increase in the defense budget over 2021, the high inflation brought about by Democrats’ out-of-control spending, in effect, resulted in a 5% cut. Biden’s defense budget is one of the smallest by GDP since World War II, equivalent to only 3% of the country’s economy – that’s nearly half the level of the 1980s.

As the only candidate in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina who proudly served my country in uniform and stood on the ground in a combat zone, I have a hard-earned perspective and represent the post 9/11 generation of warriors. In fact, the last combat veteran who was a U.S. Senator for North Carolina served in WWII. It is time to restore boots on the ground wisdom to the Senate.

Unlike President Biden and Democrats in Congress, North Carolinians don’t have a printing press to put more inflation-driving money into circulation when we can’t pay our bills. Congress must pass budgets – and one that is fiscally responsible and prioritizes what our nation truly needs!

Democrats are engaging in runaway spending that threatens to drown our country in more than $30 trillion in debt while jeopardizing our safety. As progressives defund our police and cut our national security, President Biden’s budget for this year called for a 16% increase in social spending. That doesn’t even count the misguided multi-trillion-dollar spending spree that progressives are trying to foist on the American taxpayer. Budgets are about priorities, and President Biden’s priorities are all wrong.

Ever since the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina has been propelling America forward as a leader in aerospace, defense, information technology, and research industries. America’s economic growth and national security relies heavily on the continued success of our state.

As one of those soldiers who has been activated from Ft. Bragg, to my time as a commander in Afghanistan during the rough surge years of 2009-2010, I have been molded as a leader to be serious and resolute. During these difficult times, we need that more than ever. North Carolina is a patriotic state with a vital role in our nation’s security and future. We know, as my fellow veteran George Washington said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”

Marjorie K. Eastman is a former U.S. Army intelligence officer running for U.S. Senate in the State of North Carolina.