Senate Needs to Complete Work on CR, WRDA
‘While some Senate Democrats may want to delay into a shutdown, House Democrats overwhelmingly rejected that approach.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the continuing resolution and Water Resources Development Act:
“Yesterday, the House passed the continuing resolution (C.R.) on a very large bipartisan basis, with more than three-fourths voting in its favor.
“Let me repeat that — three-fourths, a majority of both parties, voted for the legislation needed to keep the government open. While some Senate Democrats may want to delay into a shutdown, House Democrats overwhelmingly rejected that approach.
“The funding in this C.R is critical to our nation’s defense — it supports overseas operations, the fight against ISIL, and our forces in Afghanistan.
“It provides resources to begin implementing the medical innovation bill we passed earlier this week and to start bringing relief to victims of severe flooding across our country.
“And, of course, it includes provisions that will guarantee that retired coal miners in Kentucky and other states won't lose their health benefits at the end of this month. Would I have preferred that provision to be more generous? Of course I would have.
“My request to the House was to fund it for a full year. But we'll be back at it in April, and I think it's highly unlikely that we'll take it away.
“Just as I would have preferred that so many miners' places of employment hadn't been driven into bankruptcy in recent years, which as we all know is due in no small part to President Obama, his policies, and the overwhelming majority of Senate Democrats who support all those policies that have been a huge factor in creating the dilemma that we have in coal country, in Ohio, in Kentucky, in West Virginia.
“Most of the Senate Democrats support the war on coal.
“It's been my intention that the miner health benefits not expire at the end of April next year. As I just said, I'm going to work with my colleagues to prevent that.
“But this is a good time to take "Yes" for an answer. We should pass the C.R. without delay. Because if we don't pass the C.R., the health benefits will go away at the end of this month. The house is gone. They are through for this session.
“Failure to pass this legislation means delaying funding for our troops overseas.
“Failure to pass this legislation means delaying funding for Flint, Michigan.
“I promised Senator Stabenow that we would deal with that issue. And we have in the WRDA bill and the C.R. that are here, having passed the House.
“Failure to pass this legislation means delaying funding for storm recovery in many of our states.
“Failure to pass this legislation means creating a disruptive shutdown of the government.
“Over what? We’ve funded health care for miners through the end of April. We’ve got funding in here for the opioid crisis and a whole lot of other things that Senators say they care about.
“They want to shut the government down to stop this? Really? Hardly makes sense to me.
“In fact, passing this C.R. guarantees that health care will be there for miners through the end of April-- guarantees it.
“Failure to pass it means it’s guaranteed to go away at the end of the month.
“Now look, I think it’s time to get serious here. I don’t think we want any of these consequences to come about.
“And the thing to do is to pass this continuing resolution.
“After we pass that we’ll turn to the Water Resources Development bill.
“The House overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan water resources bill yesterday as well, with more than three-fourths voting in its favor.
“Overwhelming on both sides of the aisle.
“Now it’s our turn to act.
“Remember. This bill supports waterways infrastructure, enhances commerce, and maintains American ecosystems.
“It also authorizes spending in the continuing resolution which will help families in Flint-- Flint is in both of these bills. These are the folks who’ve been impacted by the drinking water crisis.
“We’ll have a vote on WRDA after the C.R. has been approved. I would encourage my colleagues to work together now so that we can pass both as soon as possible.
“Delay, it strikes me, is not a solution to any of these problems that I’ve outlined.”
Related Issues: Infrastructure, Budget