McConnell Urges Senate Democrats to Allow Debate and Vote on Defense Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor urging bipartisan support for the defense authorization and appropriations bills:

“It was heartening to see so many Democrats join us yesterday in advancing a good defense authorization bill by a big bipartisan margin. It now puts the Senate on a path to bring the bill to final passage tomorrow.
“Once that happens, the Senate will have taken a significant step toward doing right by the men and women who risk everything to protect us — it’s good news, but it’s not the end of the story either. Because while the defense authorization bill makes promises to our troops, it’s the defense appropriations bill that can actually fulfill those promises.
“That’s just the bill we’ll consider next.

“I would expect everyone who votes for the Defense authorization bill would also want to support moving to Defense appropriations.  Because I’m sure every Democratic colleague who just voted to make promises to our troops will want to help us actually fulfill those promises by voting for the defense appropriations bill too. 
“They might look to the example Democrats just set in the House of Representatives last week. House Democrats appeared to understand just how cynical it would’ve been to make promises and then not fund them, which is why we just saw dozens join with Republicans to pass defense appropriations. House Democrats must’ve known their constituents wouldn’t fall for an ‘I was for the troops before I was against them’ argument. House Democrats also must’ve seen how heartless it would’ve been to deny funding for America’s heroes as part of some ridiculous ‘Filibuster Summer’ plan to extract more cash for giant bureaucracies like the IRS.

“I have to think Senate Democrats would see things the same way. Judging by what we just saw last week in the Senate Appropriations Committee, there’s no reason to think otherwise.
“Democrats and Republicans came together to pass the defense appropriations bill we’re about to consider by a huge margin, 27 to 3.
“Not only did nearly every single Democrat support this bill in committee, but Democrats had some pretty supportive things to say about it too.
“One Democratic friend called the appropriations bill ‘a key investment in our national security’ that funds ‘a number of Hawai‘i’s defense [needs].’
“Another Democrat noted that it would fund a program that’s one of her ‘top priorities.’

“And here’s what another Democrat said of the bill:
“‘It will directly protect and grow Connecticut’s defense manufacturing industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports across our state,’ he said, and it will ‘implement a well-deserved pay raise for our troops who put their lives on the line each and every day.’

“It’s a ‘victory for Connecticut,’ he exclaimed.

“A victory for Connecticut. Now there’s a rousing endorsement of the bill we’ll vote on tomorrow.
“It’s no wonder each of these Democratic colleagues voted to endorse the appropriations bill. It’s good news for our troops and their families. It’s good news for our country.
“These Democratic friends must not want to see a ‘victory for Connecticut’ squashed or one of their ‘top priorities’ sacrificed for the sake of some ploy to funnel a few more dollars to Washington’s big bureaucracies.

“They must think this ‘Filibuster Summer’ idea their party leaders hatched isn’t good for America’s national security or for job security in their own states.

“They must know you can’t take credit for promises made in a defense authorization bill if you then vote against the appropriations bill that would fund them. 

“So I hope Senators in both parties will join together once more to first bring the defense authorization bill over the goal line tomorrow, and then to begin debate on the inseparable defense appropriations bill too.
“If Senators want to amend that appropriations bill or strike a rider, then they should vote with us to get on the legislation so we can consider those amendments or those motions to strike.
“If Senators want to try and increase or reduce the level of funding in that bill, the only way they’ll have a chance to try doing that is if they vote with us to get on the bill.

“So bring us your ideas and let’s debate them.

“Whether you’ve got a proposal to boost the helicopter industry in Connecticut or a plan to repair naval vessels, amphibious and surface ships in places like California, Washington, Hawaii, and Virginia, the only way to ensure ideas like those are considered is by voting to open debate on the appropriations bill — and the only way to ensure they won’t be heard at all is by voting to filibuster.
“That wouldn’t be good for anyone. So let’s not kill the opportunity to even have those debates.
“Because here’s what we know. The young men and women of our volunteer force don’t need a summer packed full of Democrat filibusters and they certainly don’t need a Democrat shutdown surprise in the fall — all they ask for are the weapons, the training, and the skills they need to prevail on the battlefield.
“We can give it to them. We’re almost there.
“Democrats already joined with Republicans to make a promise to the troops, and with just a little more good bipartisan work we’ll see Democrats join with Republicans to fulfill it too. I have to think they will, because failing to do so would mean making empty promises to both constituents and to our troops.”

Related Issues: NDAA, Senate Democrats, Appropriations