Senate Democrats Continue to Block Critical Defense Funding
‘…I don’t think the American people will have much patience for the notion that Democrats’ first responsibility is irritating the White House and funding the Department of Defense comes second. So I hope we can reboot this process and move forward or the sake of our Senate process, for the sake of stable funding for the federal government, and for the sake of our nation’s security.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the need to fund the government:
“Here’s what happened on the Senate floor yesterday afternoon: Senate Democrats blocked this year’s funding for our national defense. They voted it down. We can’t move the legislation forward. Democrats blocked the funding our commanders need to keep pace with Russia and China. Democrats blocked money for the tools and training that our men and women in uniform badly need, while our adversaries continually pour money into new weapons and technology. Democrats even voted against a pay raise for our servicemembers.
“All but two Democrats voted to filibuster all this. Kept the Senate from even considering the legislation. Never mind that before we adjourned in August, Democrats in the House and Senate all agreed to a carefully-negotiated framework to keep our appropriations process on track. In fact the Speaker of the House and the Democratic Leader here in the Senate publicly agreed to the exact dollar figure for the defense bill they just voted down yesterday. And we all agreed that poison pills, new policy riders, or any changes to presidential transfer authorities were off the table unless both sides were on board.
“So the appropriations process, including at the committee level with Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy, appeared to be going pretty smoothly. But then, as we’ve seen a number of other times in the recent past, the Democratic leadership seemed to have a change of heart. Perhaps it sunk in that actually meeting President Trump and Republicans halfway — as divided government obviously requires — might have earned some criticism from the far left.
“Whatever the reason, our Democratic friends turned on a dime, reneged on the bipartisan agreement, and began demanding exactly the kinds of new poison pills and partisan policy changes that we all promised to omit. So that’s how we get to a spectacle like what happened yesterday. That’s how we get to a place where 42 Senate Democrats vote to filibuster defense funding and obstruct a pay raise for our servicemembers, for all the world to see. Because Democratic leadership decided they saw more political upside in picking new fights with the president than in keeping their word and investing in our men and women in uniform.
“In fact, I understand that just yesterday, our Democratic colleagues were offered even more money for the Labor-HHS bill — but they declined it. It’s not about the money. It’s not about compromising and getting to ‘yes.’ It’s about not wanting to take ‘yes’ for an answer. I have great respect for my Democratic friends, but I think this episode has to go down as a new high-water mark for the policy consequences of what some people call ‘Trump derangement syndrome.’
“We’re at a point where 42 Senate Democrats will decline to fund the U.S. armed forces essentially just to spite the occupant of the White House. If you ask me, that is one heck of a price to pay to put on a show for ‘the Resistance.’ But yesterday’s vote is now a matter of record. It’s in the past. And I really am hopeful that we can get back on track with the kind of appropriations process that my Democratic colleagues pledged they’d support. When the good work that takes place in committee is allowed to proceed without this top-down partisan maneuvering, it tends to yield really good results.
“I think we were all pleased with the bipartisan funding bills that Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy produced together last year. And I understand this morning’s appropriations markup is expected to be bipartisan as well. For example, I’m proud the Financial Services & General Government bill will include a bipartisan amendment providing another $250 million for the administration and security of their elections, to help states improve their defenses and shore up their voting systems. I am proud to have helped develop this amendment and to co-sponsor it in committee.
“That will bring our total allocation for election security to more than $600 million since fiscal 2018. It’s a crucial issue. The Trump Administration has made enormous strides to help states secure their elections without giving Washington new power to push the states around. That’s how we continue the progress we saw in 2018 and that’s exactly what we’re doing. This is exactly the kind of positive outcome that is possible when we stop posturing for the press and let Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy conduct a bipartisan committee process.
“As time grows shorter before the end of September, I hope the critical defense funding that Democrats blocked yesterday will soon earn the same kind of productive treatment. Because I don’t think the American people will have much patience for the notion that Democrats’ first responsibility is irritating the White House and funding the Department of Defense comes second. So I hope we can reboot this process and move forward or the sake of our Senate process, for the sake of stable funding for the federal government, and for the sake of our nation’s security.”
Related Issues: Iran, China, Appropriations, Russia, America's Military