McConnell: Optimistic We Can Begin 2018 With A Bipartisan, Two-Year Funding Agreement
‘I spoke yesterday about the need to fund the federal government by January 19th. Members in both parties - including leadership on both sides - have publicly stated their desire to approach this issue in a serious and collaborative manner. And those sentiments were renewed in a productive meeting yesterday.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need for a government funding agreement:
“I spoke yesterday about the need to fund the federal government by January 19th. Members in both parties – including leadership on both sides – have publicly stated their desire to approach this issue in a serious and collaborative manner. And those sentiments were renewed in a productive meeting yesterday. I am optimistic that we can begin 2018 with a bipartisan, two-year funding agreement that meets several critically-important objectives.
“To begin with, any agreement must provide our armed forces with the resources they need to fulfill their missions. That means setting aside the misguided notion that new defense spending needs to be matched dollar-for-dollar by new non-defense spending. Some describe this notion as ‘parity.’ But of course, there was no ‘parity’ at all in the damaging cuts that the Budget Control Act inflicted on our national security.
“Since fiscal year 2013, discretionary defense spending has been cut by $85 billion more than non-defense spending. That number has real consequences for the men and women who serve our country in harm’s way. Last year, Secretary of Defense Mattis testified that ‘No enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military’ than these self-inflicted budget reductions.
“Nothing about this issue needs to be partisan. During the Obama Administration, Defense Secretaries Panetta, Hagel, and Carter all similarly warned that sequestration cuts would handicap our men and women in uniform. And unfortunately, at a time when our country faces myriad threats and strategic challenges around the globe, experts agree this is exactly what has happened.
“Congress has a golden opportunity to put aside political calculations and prioritize the actual needs of America’s all-volunteer military. There is no reason why an arbitrary formula, which bears no relationship to the real needs of our armed forces, should dictate the degree to which we fund them. Our men and women in uniform are doing their job. Our job is to give them the resources they require.
“Funding for our armed forces is not the only area that is ripe for productive, bipartisan negotiations. Last December, the Senate made progress moving toward a long-term reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Unfortunately, though Senate Republicans were prepared and eager to move forward, we were not able to include that effort in the continuing resolution.
“Approximately nine million children – including thousands in my home state of Kentucky – depend on CHIP for health coverage. Their parents depend on it for financial security and peace of mind. Instead of giving them a five-year reauthorization in time for the holidays, partisan objections forced Congress to settle for a short-term patch. This month, we can set this right. I know that colleagues on both sides of the aisle are eager to find a long-term solution. Five years, full reauthorization. Let’s get this done for working families.
“Furthermore, as Senators from both parties have stated, Congress should act now to provide relief to communities across the country that were devastated by disasters in 2017. Last year’s hurricanes crippled Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and dealt blows to mainland communities from Florida to Texas. Wildfires caused serious damage across the western United States. For many Americans in these areas, life is nowhere near back to normal. It’s time to complete our work on the supplemental disaster relief legislation.
“And it is imperative that none of these urgent priorities be held hostage to our ongoing discussions around immigration policy. Senators with diverse viewpoints have been discussing how to address the unlawfully-established DACA program while also improving border security, interior enforcement, and addressing other important parts of our broken immigration system. As I have stated, if a compromise solution emerges that meets the president’s conditions, it will be brought up for a vote in the Senate. In the meantime, let’s continue productive negotiations and secure a bipartisan funding agreement.”
Related Issues: Health Care, America's Military, Immigration