As the nation sees an uptick in foreign nationals illegally crossing into the United States who hail from countries like Iran, Lebanon and Syria following the Palestinian incursion into Israel, top lawmakers and experts said it is time for the U.S. to "rearm" and that Congress must seat a speaker now.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Select Committee focusing on threats from China, said news that the Pentagon has called up 2,000 service members to be ready-to-deploy to Israel shows how precarious America's security is.
Gallagher told "The Story" that whether the troops are deployed in support and not combat-related capacities, it is still dangerous for them. The United States must make sure it is making the right decisions to keep the homeland safe.
"[W]e still have a long way to go because, as you know, we have not funded the military yet. We've not made a generational investment in key weapons systems that not only our military needs, but our allies like Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, needs," he said, adding that a stymied House of Representatives could undermine readiness.
"Right now, we're falling down on the job. So my hope is we can get a [House] speaker chosen tomorrow and start doing things like passing a defense bill that has robust oversight but robust funding so that our troops, when they're sent into harm's way, have the training and resources they need to come home safely," Gallagher said.
Amid a report that more than 151 individuals on the terror watchlist were apprehended at the southern border since the fiscal year recently began, a former FBI investigator added that protecting the U.S. from threats like Hamas begins by screening who should be allowed in.
Bill Daly said recent comments from FBI Director Christopher Wray on national security threats makes him believe there is at least an "ambient concern" in that regard.
"What's concern[ing] here is kind of both homegrown individuals who may have a propensity to commit an act of violence; of hate. And all they need to do is either see something on television, see someone in their community, see a protest, and it kind of invigorates them," Daly added, noting how law enforcement is taking steps to protect houses of worship and areas with predominant populations of Jews and Muslims.
He noted that the 9/11 Commission found the terrorists who committed those attacks used America's security tactics against it, by taking advantage of a flaw in the visa system to arrive in the U.S. legally. Two terrorists overstayed their visas, he recalled.
"So I think we have to take a hard look at everything we're doing," Daly said. "But the southern border, being as porous as it is, now is the time we shouldn't shake our heads and say, what have we been doing for the past number of years by not stopping this."
In response to the antisemitic terror from Hamas, New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued a strong public statement pronouncing to the Jewish population in the city – the largest of any place outside Israel – that "your fight is our fight."
"We will not be all right until every person responsible for this act is held accountable," Adams said.
Daly said Adams' call is important in terms of seeking to unify Americans, while other observers noted the Democrat received rare bipartisan praise.
In terms of unity, Gallagher said the war in Israel is a reminder that malign nations have been waging a "cold war" against the West for some time, and that America's recent pivot toward "neo-isolationism" may allow countries like Iran and China to align against it.
"And these are countries that have divergent interests, but increasingly their shared overwhelming interests in undermining America, destroying American global leadership and severing our traditional alliance structures is causing them to collaborate," he said.
"This is a moment for America. This should be a wake-up call moment. It is time for us to rearm, get serious, and start leading the free world once again."
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