FLORENCE — U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks discussed the nation's debt and national security Thursday, doing so in the same breath by explaining how they are tied together.

Brooks, the Republican congressman whose District 5 House seat includes Lauderdale County, said military leaders throughout the past decade have had a common answer when asked about America's greatest national security threat.

"Debt is our greatest national security threat," Brooks said during a luncheon hosted by the Shoals Chamber of Commerce. "They consistently say our debt, because our debt has the ability to strip us of our defense capabilities more so than anything else."

Displaying debt projections from the Congressional Budget Office, Brooks warned about continued deficit spending.

"We blew through the $22 trillion mark earlier this year," Brooks said. "We're looking at a little bit more than $2 trillion being spent over next two years — debt money, money that we don't have and will have to borrow to get."

That is projected to expand as high as $33 trillion in the next 10 years, he said.

"There are probably about 10 to 20 percent of us in Washington who understand the problems associated with all this and have the backbone to say 'no,' but unfortunately, 10 to 20 percent don't win any votes," Brooks said.

"It's the easy way to get elected. You don't have to worry about getting attacked if you just say 'yes' to vast amounts of spending the different groups want you to spend."

He said last year's debt service costs reached $325 billion and are projected to grow to $383 billion this year.

"That's about a $60 billion difference," Brooks said. "Sixty billion dollars, to put it into perspective, is three NASA programs, or it is more than we spend in any one year on all of our transportation needs at the federal government level. That's $60 billion that can no longer be used for services."

He fears the United States is tumbling toward national insolvency if such spending continues.

"It'll occur when our creditors decide that they don't want to continue lending us money," Brooks said. "Basically, we are playing with fire. So please be aware what our current situation is, and what the risk is going forward."

Brooks also touched on a variety of issues during a question-and-answer session.

On immigration, he said he understands that there is a lot of compassion for people trying to enter our country from the southern border.

"You can't help but feel some kind of emotional connection to the plight that these people are in," he said.

However, Brooks added, more than 2,000 illegal immigrants were arrested for homicides on American soil last year. In addition, more than 30,000 deaths of Americans annually are tied to illegal drugs that come through the southern border.

Someone in the crowd asked about a list of potential U.S. Supreme Court appointments if a position comes up in the next term and President Donald Trump is re-elected.

"I've got the list that he published in 2016 that he's gone by so far," Brooks said, listing U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge and former Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor specifically.

He added that if a position comes up, "it's going to be a dogfight."

"It'll probably be another Kavanaugh-type thing," Brooks said. "If they've got the goods on you, that's going to come out, and if they don't have the goods on you, they're going to lie about it. There are a lot of people in our political environment who don't really care what the truth is."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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