McConnell: Don’t Hold Bipartisan Defense Bill Hostage

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding defense authorization legislation:

“The defense authorization legislation before the Senate would authorize the programs and funding that provide the kind of training and equipment our military needs in the face of aggressive threats like ISIL. It would provide a well-deserved pay raise to the brave men and women who give everything to keep us safe. And it contains exactly the same level of funding President Obama requested in his own budget: $612 billion.
“It’s just the kind of legislation you’d expect to receive strong bipartisan support.
“Up until now, it has.
“The NDAA is a bill we typically consider every year, and it’s one that typically passes with bipartisan support.
“This year’s House bill passed with votes from both parties, while the Senate version of the bill passed the Armed Services Committee by a huge bipartisan margin of 22 to 4.
“It should be sailing through to Senate passage by a similar margin this week. But some in the Democrat leadership are now trying to hold it hostage for partisan reasons.
“We live in an age when, as Henry Kissinger recently put, ‘the United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War.’ And yet some Democrat leaders seem to think this is the moment to hold our national security hostage to partisan demands for more spending on Washington bureaucracies like the IRS. They seem to think it’s okay to hold our troops and their families to ransom if they can’t plus-up unrelated bills like the one that funds their own congressional offices.

“The Armed Services Committee Chairman just penned an op-ed on the issue that I would ask my colleagues to read. It made many important points, including this one: There is bipartisan consensus that we cannot continue to hold defense funding at BCA levels after years of dangerous cuts. Military officials have told us that to do so could put American lives at risk, which means it’s a scenario we should be working to avoid at all costs. But some Democrat leaders seem to view such a worrying scenario as little more than leverage to extract more spending for unrelated bureaucracies.
“‘It is the first duty of the federal government to protect the nation,’ Senator McCain wrote in his piece, and ‘with global threats rising, it simply makes no sense to oppose a defense policy bill full of vital authorities that our troops need…’
“‘[And] for a reason,’ he said, ‘that has nothing to do with national defense spending.’
“He’s right, and I’d ask that this op-ed be included in the record at the conclusion of my remarks.

“Here’s what I’m asking today.

“I’m asking every sensible Democrat colleague to keep onside with the American people and pull these party leaders back from the edge. I’m asking my friends across the aisle to join with us to support wounded warriors instead of more partisan brinksmanship, to give our troops a raise instead of giving gridlock a boost.
“And I’m asking them to work with us to defeat the contingency-funding amendment offered by the senior Senator from Rhode Island, so that we can keep this bill intact and consistent with the Budget resolution.

“The new Congress has been on a roll in recent months, getting things done for the American people in a spirit of greater openness and cooperation. Let’s keep that momentum going. Let’s keep that spirit alive.
“If you have amendments, I’d encourage you to work with the bill managers to get them processed.
“But above all, let’s ignore the partisan voices of the past and work together for more shared achievements instead. I think our troops and their families deserve no less.”