McConnell: It’s “The 11th Hour” for Crucial Legislation After Months of Democrats’ Delays
‘There is a lot left to do for the American families we represent, if our Democratic colleagues will allow it. And it will certainly take a great deal of cooperation and consent here in the Senate if we intend to consider and pass these measures before the end of the year. Obstruction and stalemate have brought us to the 11th hour. I hope, now that we’re here, that both chambers will be able to set aside Democrats’ impeachment parade long enough to get the people’s business done.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the week’s business:
‘As we enter the final weeks of 2019, two things seem to be true here in Congress.
‘Number one: Our Democratic colleagues, particularly in the House, seem eager to pour the vast majority of their time and energy into their three-year-long journey to impeach the president the American people elected.
‘And, as a consequence, number two: Congress has yet to fulfill a number of its core governing responsibilities for this year. At this late date, several crucial, must-pass bills remain undone.
‘For months, my fellow Republicans and I have been stressing the need for productive, bipartisan cooperation on these pressing subjects. Funding for the federal government. Defense appropriations -- the money for our troops. The National Defense Authorization Act. But for months, our calls for Democrats to join us in serious negotiations went largely unanswered, as Democratic leadership opted for a different political playbook: Obsess over impeachment and obstruct this core business.
‘Earlier this year, House Democrats pushed through what we believe was the first purely party-line NDAA that either chamber has ever passed in the 58-year history of this legislation.
‘This is the legislation that puts forward Congress’ priorities for equipping, training, and maintaining the greatest fighting forces in the world. It had never been used before as a purely partisan weapon. Not until this year. But reassuringly, the past few days have finally brought an end to bipartisan talks and produced a compromise NDAA. The end result should be able to pass both chambers and earn the president’s signature. And it won’t come a moment too soon.
‘The NDAA authorizes resources to keep critical military installations, like Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, and the Blue Grass Army Depot in Kentucky, running smoothly.
‘It is similarly important to facilities in many of my colleagues’ home states as well. And nationally, of course, it directs readiness efforts, prioritizes research and development programs, and enacts vital reforms at the Pentagon.
‘So I look forward to sending the final, bipartisan product of the conference committee to the president for his signature soon.
‘In addition to that authorizing legislation, Congress of course needs to actually appropriate funds for our national defense and for all the other functions of our federal government. Just a few months ago, when leaders on both sides put their names to a bipartisan, bicameral road map for the appropriations process, it looked as though we might keep partisan disputes out of this process and finish up the appropriations process with time to spare.
‘Unfortunately, though, my Democratic counterparts decided that picking fights with the White House was a higher priority, and we spent the autumn mired in disputes over exactly the kinds of poison pills and presidential authorities that the Speaker and the Democratic Leader had previously promised would be off-limits.
‘But, as we speak, Chairman Shelby and appropriators in both chambers are trying to bring months of near-stalemate to a close. Last month, bipartisan, bicameral agreement was reached on subcommittee allocations. And talks continue this week on outstanding issues.
‘Thanks to the months of delay, we have a long way to go and a very short time to do it. I hope that our Democratic colleagues can finally stick to the terms of the budget agreement and keep partisan policy fights out of this process. That’s the only way both chambers will have a chance of being able to vote on funding bills before the end of this year.
‘And that brings us to the USMCA. For the better part of the past year, President Trump’s landmark agreement to update North American trade policy has been languishing as Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats indulged further and further in impeachment.
‘176,000 new American jobs sat waiting on ice as the Speaker offered month after month of lukewarm assurances that her caucus was hoping to be “on a path to yes”. But this week, at long last, it appears that House Democrats may finally be willing to take action for American workers and job creators and let the House vote on the president’s deal.
‘I was pleased to hear that U.S. negotiators, led by Robert Lighthizer, are headed to Mexico today to finalize the details on this important win for the American economy. I hope this forward momentum continues.
‘So that’s the state of play. There is a lot left to do for the American families we represent, if our Democratic colleagues will allow it. And it will certainly take a great deal of cooperation and consent here in the Senate if we intend to consider and pass these measures before the end of the year.
‘Obstruction and stalemate have brought us to the 11th hour. I hope, now that we’re here, that both chambers will be able to set aside Democrats’ impeachment parade long enough to get the people’s business done.’
Related Issues: USMCA, NDAA, Appropriations, America's Military