Defense Bill Retains Bipartisan Prohibition Against President Sending Guantanamo Terrorists to U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the National Defense Authorization Act:

“We’ll turn to legislation today that the men and women who currently wear our uniform have had to wait too long for.

“When Senator McCain says that ‘it is the first duty of the federal government to protect the nation,’ he means it. He knows what it means to serve. He knows what it means to sacrifice. And in his role as Chair of the Armed Services Committee, he worked hard craft a bipartisan defense authorization bill with input from both parties.

“It would transform bureaucratic waste into crucial investments for our troops and their families, like the raises they’ve earned and the quality-of-life programs they deserve.

“It would provide hope for wounded warriors and extend a hand of compassion to heroes who struggle with mental-health challenges.

“It would also authorize a new medical facility at Fort Knox, an important project I’ve championed for years

“And at a time when our country faces the most ‘diverse and complex array of crises’ since the Second World War, as Henry Kissinger observed, Senator McCain’s bill would help position our military to confront he challenges of tomorrow as it offers support to the men and women serving in harm’s way today.

“The defense authorization bill is legislation we typically consider every year, and it’s legislation that typically passes with broad bipartisan support.

“We expect that to finally happen again today. We expect the President to finally sign it this time too.

“This should’ve been allowed to happen a lot sooner.

“We all know the unfortunate and unnecessary roadblocks the defense authorization bill has faced this year. We all know that the President decided to veto the version of this bill we passed last month.

“That veto is particularly unfortunate and puzzling, given the two chief concerns that the President cited for it.

“One, he said he was concerned that the bill relied upon contingency funding to meet the Department’s operational costs.

“Two, he said he was concerned that the bill again contained a clear bipartisan prohibition on moving Guantanamo Bay terrorists into our local communities.

“But the bill really hasn’t changed much since then, and the topline has now been settled by the bipartisan budget agreement. Either way, we look forward to the Senate passing this essentially unchanged legislation and the President signing the bipartisan bill — along with its restrictions against bringing terrorists into the United States — into law

“That’s the right thing for our men and women in uniform. That’s the right thing for our country.


“Before I leave the floor, I’d like to underline a point I just referenced.

“This morning, the Senate will pass two bills.

“We’ll pass a veterans funding bill that supports Americans who’ve already served their country.

“We’ll pass a defense authorization bill that supports Americans who currently serve.

“Each of these bills contains a clear, bipartisan prohibition on the President moving Guantanamo terrorists into the backyards of the American people.

“The Senate has voted many times over the years to enact these bipartisan prohibitions.

“We’ve enacted them in Congresses with split party control.

“We’ve enacted them in Congress with massive, overwhelming Democratic majorities.

“And today, the Congress elected by the American people will express itself clearly once again.

“Not once, but twice.

“The President may not like this bipartisan action. It may conflict with a campaign slogan from eight or nine years ago.

“But here’s how one Senator put it.

“‘Congress’ job is to pass legislation. The president can veto it or he can sign it.’

“That was then-Senator Obama as he was criticizing the idea of doing an ‘end-run around Congress.’ ‘I believe in the Constitution,’ he said, ‘and I will obey the Constitution of the United States.’

“Those were his words then. They should guide his actions now.”

Related Issues: Veterans, America's Military, Guantanamo Detention Facility, Appropriations, National Security