In his last speech on the House floor as a member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton warned colleagues and incoming lawmakers they need to keep focusing on the war on terror.
"I implore our citizens and our leaders not to forget that we are a nation at war," Skelton said. "National security must be our number one priority."
The Lexington Democrat last month lost his bid for an 18th twoyear congressional term to Republican challenger Vicki Hartzler.
He acknowledged that military issues aren't the only ones facing Congress.
"When returning members and new members arrive at the Capitol for the new Congress in January, they will confront enormous challenges as they work to chart the course for our country in the days ahead," Skelton noted. "These challenges include the economy and jobs, health care and education, to name a few.
"(But) unless our government protects our national security, none of these other important issues can receive the attention they deserve."
Protecting national security has been part of his personal mission during his congressional service, including the last four years as House Armed Services Committee chairman - which he called "undoubtedly the high point of my political career."