Senate Democrats Should Not Shortchange National Security
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the National Defense Authorization Act:
“Today’s Democratic Party does not make the policy decisions of a party that is serious about protecting America.
“In May, President Biden released a budget proposal that proposed a de facto cut in defense funding. And that was before the President’s own supercharged inflation further cut the purchasing power of every defense dollar.
“In August, his botched Afghanistan retreat shattered our allies’ trust and delighted terrorists.
“In 10 months in office, despite naïve happy talk from the Administration, the threats we face are markedly worse.
“The vacuum they left in Afghanistan has emboldened terrorists, from Iran’s militias in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen to the highest ranks of the Taliban’s government.
“Their desperation to return to a failed nuclear deal has given Iran the upper hand in negotiations.
“For four years, my colleague the Democratic Leader seemed constantly focused on Putin and Russia.
“But now? With Putin flaunting his power and Russia engaged in ongoing cyber-attacks, weapons tests, and troop build-ups? Crickets.
“And for all their talk about China’s threat, we’ve seen no evidence that Democrats intend for the United States to keep pace with the PLA’s investments in nuclear and hypersonic weapons.
“The bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission has made clear we cannot shortchange our own military modernization and have a prayer of competing with the People’s Republic of China or even the declining but dangerous Russian Republic.
“Our colleagues across the aisle have missed one opportunity after another to right the ship. They’ve used the reconciliation process to pass trillions in new partisan spending without a cent for defending the nation.
“And despite the strong bipartisan work of our colleagues on the Armed Services Committee, the Democratic Leader kept this year’s defense authorization bill in limbo for months, and now wants to block the Senate from a real debate and a real amendment process.
“Madam President -- debating the right way to confront Russian threats to America and our allies and equip our friends in Ukraine is worth the Senate’s time.
“Putin is massing tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border, but the Democratic Leader is trying to block a debate about responding to Russian aggression? It makes no sense.
“Considering sanctions on the pipeline that fuels Putin’s encroachment over Europe – including provisions from Senator Risch that closely mirror language the House added unanimously – is worth the Senate’s time.
“Setting the record straight on our resolve to maintain a strong and credible nuclear deterrent that can check the worst impulses of our adversaries is worth the Senate’s time.
“Yet once again, the Democratic Leader seems to want to put national security last. My colleague is trying to overcorrect for poor planning by cramming a two-week bill into two or three days’ time. I imagine there might be finger-pointing at Republicans if that proves impossible.
“Madam President, nothing less than the safety of the American people is at stake. This is more important than political timetables for partisan wish-lists.
“So if the Democratic Leader insists on forcing a cloture vote later today, I will oppose cutting off these important debates prematurely, when they have really just begun.”
Related Issues: NDAA, Senate Democrats, China, Afghanistan