McConnell Discusses Senate Focus on Serious Solutions; Previews Legislative Schedule
‘We’ll give Democrats another opportunity to end their filibuster of funding that’s critical to controlling Zika and supporting our veterans. We’ll also address other important issues…to help keep Americans safer in their communities, to help strengthen our military, and to help prevent families from unnecessarily paying more for the food they purchase.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding an active Senate:
“Last week’s passage of responsible, bipartisan legislation on Puerto Rico shows what’s possible when we keep our focus on serious solutions. That’s where we should keep our focus again during the coming work period.
“We knew that doing nothing was not an option on Puerto Rico, so Senators of both parties worked to pass responsible legislation to help the Puerto Rican people and prevent a taxpayer bailout.
“We also knew that doing nothing was not an option on Zika, yet Democrats blocked over a billion dollars in new funding for women’s health and pregnant mothers as well as record funding levels for veterans.
“As I said before, the Senate will revisit this important issue over the current work period. We’ll give Democrats another opportunity to end their filibuster of funding that’s critical to controlling Zika and supporting our veterans. We’ll also address other important issues.
“Senators will have the opportunity to support proposals designed to help keep Americans safer in their communities, to help strengthen our military, and to help prevent families from unnecessarily paying more for the food they purchase.
“Let me remind colleagues of the four bills I filed cloture on just before the 4th of July state work period: the Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, Kate’s Law, the biotechnology labeling compromise, and the defense appropriations bill.
“First we’ll consider Senator Toomey’s Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act, and then Kate’s Law from Senator Cruz.
“Senator Toomey’s Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act aims to deter extreme and unfair so-called ‘sanctuary city’ policies in the first place, and Senator Cruz’s Kate's Law will help protect the public even when cities insist on maintaining these dangerous policies. Senator Toomey’s bill would support jurisdictions that cooperate with federal law enforcement officials and redirect funds to them from those places that refuse to do so. It would also support law-enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day, protecting them from having to live in constant fear of being sued for simply doing their jobs. No wonder this bill has such broad support from the law enforcement community, including the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the National Association of Police Organizations.
“Senator Toomey’s bill, in conjunction with Senator Cruz’s bill, aims to prevent more families from experiencing the heartache that Kate Steinle’s family has been forced to endure. It’s been a year since Kate was tragically murdered in San Francisco by a convicted felon who had been deported five times. What makes this tragedy even more heartbreaking is that it could have been prevented. But San Francisco had an extreme so-called ‘sanctuary city’ policy of not complying with federal immigration laws, apparently even when it came to detaining dangerous criminals residing in our country illegally. In this case, the city’s irresponsible policy helped lead to a young woman senselessly losing her life at the hands of a felon who should’ve never been on the streets to begin with.
“Senator Cruz’s bill is about getting dangerous criminals off our streets and keeping our communities safer. It will prevent individuals who’ve been convicted of coming here illegally and who’ve been convicted of committing serious criminal offenses from harming more innocent victims like Kate Steinle.
“We are a nation of immigrants. We all appreciate the many contributions that immigrants have made to our country over the years.
“Americans from both parties know it would be incredibly dishonest to pretend this bill is aimed at law-abiding immigrants who enrich our country, rather than who it’s really aimed at – those who come to this country illegally and have criminal convictions.
“Americans from both parties also understand that extreme sanctuary city policies can inflict incredible pain on innocent victims and their families — President Obama’s own Secretary of Homeland Security has called sanctuary city policies ‘not acceptable’ and ‘counterproductive to public safety.’
“We took up similar measures last year, and it was unfortunate to see them blocked. Let’s work together now to make the right choice and advance these measures to prevent more tragedies like Kate’s and to support local law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line for us each day.
“After the Senate considers these bills, we’ll move to the bipartisan compromise recently announced by the top Republican and top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee.
“This bill would protect Middle Class families from unnecessary and unfair higher food prices that could result from a patchwork of state food-labeling laws, and it would ensure access to more information about the food they purchase too.
“While the bill before us may not be perfect, it's the product of diligent work from both sides of the aisle to reach an agreement.
“It’s a commonsense measure based on science, which has not shown health, safety, or nutritional risks associated with bioengineered products.
“The Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, a Republican, said this bipartisan bill ‘recognizes the 30-plus years of proven safety of biotechnology while ensuring consumer access to more information about their food.’ The Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, a Democrat, calls it ‘a win for consumers and families.’ And with cooperation from across the aisle, we’ll pass it.
“I also filed cloture to begin debate on the Fiscal Year 2017 defense appropriations bill, which funds the training, equipping, and readiness of our armed forces. This bill provides the men and women who protect us with the resources they need to execute their missions, and it provides our military with the tools it needs to prepare and modernize the force — which is critical at a time of numerous threats to our nation.
“Senators from both sides have already passed a bill to authorize funds for national defense priorities. Now it’s time for Senators from both sides to pass this bill to actually appropriate those funds.”
Related Issues: Homeland Security, Back to Work, Immigration, Law Enforcement, Regulations, Zika Virus, Appropriations