National Security Takes A Backseat To Democrats’ Partisan Political Priorities

Funding For American Armed Forces And The Annual Defense Authorization Bill Are Mired In Disputes Over Democrats’ Partisan Demands


SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Nearly every day I’ve come to the floor to talk about the key pieces of legislation that we’ll only be able to complete with bipartisan cooperation. Really essential things — like funding for the entirety of our federal government, including for our men and women in uniform. The money for the tools and the training and the weapons that our volunteer servicemembers need to complete their missions. Things like the National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress has passed every single year, always on a bipartisan basis, for the last 58 years. This is literally the bill that re-authorizes the U.S. military. It could not be more basic or fundamental. So it’s dismaying that my Democratic colleagues have seen fit to hold these basic duties hostage for the sake of picking fights with the White House. For advancing a partisan domestic agenda. It’s disappointing that Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Leader [Sen. Schumer] have abandoned their own written promises that they would not make our bipartisan appropriations process conditional on poison pills, policy riders, or changes to presidential transfer authorities. Even though they put that in writing, they’ve chosen to shoehorn partisan demands right back into this process. So, we are stalled.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 12/04/2019)

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE MARK ESPER: “Threats to the United States don’t wait around for funding -- and neither should our warfighters. As the CR expiration looms, I again urge Congress to pass a budget ASAP -- our warfighters need consistent, reliable funding as they face adversaries across the globe. CRs harm national security & deny our brave service members the funding they need against our fully funded adversaries.” (Sec. Esper, @EsperDoD, Twitter, 11/12/2019)


Democrats Stall Defense Authorization Over 11th Hour ‘Partisan Priorities’

SEN. McCONNELL: “House Democrats abandoned long-standing traditions of compromise and larded up the NDAA with partisan policy riders…. In the Senate, by contrast, Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed collaborated on a bill that passed the Senate 86 to 8. We did our part…. But this year, the Speaker of the House and my colleague the Democratic Leader want to scrap this precedent, undermine the Committees, and demand special treatment for partisan priorities that have no business being crammed into this essential legislation for our armed forces…. It’s not good-faith policymaking. Not when these demands pour in at the 11th hour over must-pass legislation for our servicemembers. It’s just political theater, taking precedence over our armed forces.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 12/03/2019)

SEN. JIM INHOFE (R-OK), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman: “The NDAA supports the bipartisan national security of this country and should not be held hostage by issues outside this committee’s jurisdiction. Unfortunately, because of issues that are not in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s jurisdiction, this year’s NDAA is not yet resolved …” (U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 12/03/2019)

“Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the past 58 years. But the mammoth defense bill, which lays out policy and authorizes spending for the Pentagon, has been beset this year by a sluggish pace and multiple fights that have threatened to break the bill’s annual streak.” (“Congress Braces For Chaotic December,” The Hill, 12/02/2019)

  • “A final deal on the National Defense Authorization Act is being held up by a handful of outside issues … the top House and Senate Armed Services Republicans said today. Armed Services leaders tasked with solving the differences in competing House and Senate defense bills have tackled several issues outside their jurisdiction — including imposing broad environmental protections against PFAS chemicals and granting paid family leave for the entire federal workforce. As lawmakers face a year-end deadline, non-defense issues are the only holdup remaining for the defense legislation, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) complained.” (“NDAA ‘Held Hostage’ By Outside Issues, Top Republicans Complain,” Politico Pro, 12/03/2019)
  • “The House-passed defense bill, H.R. 2500, contained an expansion of military and federal worker benefits, including a repeal of the military widow’s tax, 12 weeks of paid family leave for all federal employees and permitting active-duty troops to sue the military over medical malpractice. House Democrats did not propose any ways to pay for the provisions at the time. Lawmakers have also wrestled over the removal of toxic PFAS chemicals from military firefighting foam and other environmental protections. The dispute has drawn in leaders from other committees with jurisdiction over the issue and has become a top disagreement as conference talks dragged on.” (“NDAA ‘Held Hostage’ By Outside Issues, Top Republicans Complain,” Politico Pro, 12/03/2019)


And Democrats Are Putting Other Unrelated Policy Demands Ahead Of Funding For Our Troops

SEN. McCONNELL: “[C]onsider the appropriations process. Even after signing a bipartisan agreement to forego poison pills, Democrats ignored it and thrust other policy disagreements back into the appropriations process. They voted twice to filibuster funding for our armed forces.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 12/03/2019)

“Underlying the procedural spat is a partisan struggle to gain leverage in final negotiations on spending priorities for the fiscal year that is already more than two months old. Senate Democrats have blocked a Defense spending bill (S 2474) from coming to a floor vote, for example …” (“House Pushes ‘Dozen Bills Or None’ Approach To Spending Talks,” CQ News, 12/03/2019)

  • “The procedural squabble is only the latest setback to an appropriations process that has been stymied for months and already required two stopgap measures to avoid a shutdown. Congressional leaders thought they had cleared a major hurdle last summer when they passed a bipartisan budget deal (PL 116-37) that raised the limits on discretionary spending to make them more politically palatable to both parties. And over the Thanksgiving recess, appropriators reached a deal on how to divvy up the year’s $1.37 trillion in discretionary spending among all 12 bills. But a time crunch, and lack of agreement on specific policy measures, continue to threaten passage of a year-end spending package.” (“House Pushes ‘Dozen Bills Or None’ Approach To Spending Talks,” CQ News, 12/03/2019)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): “Senate Democrats want to ensure that the final appropriations bills include several of our policies and priorities.” (Sen. Schumer, Congressional Record, S. 6784, 12/02/2019)

  • “The top Senate Democrat laid down some benchmarks Monday for his party’s support of final fiscal 2020 appropriations bills. Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said on the Senate floor that the bills will need to include ‘significant resources’ for programs intended to combat the opioid epidemic and gun violence; infrastructure and child care spending; increased or at least level funding for Violence Against Women Act programs; and additional funds for election security.” (“Schumer Outlines Democratic Demands On Spending Bills,” Roll Call, 12/02/2019)



Related Issues: NDAA, Appropriations, National Security, America's Military, Senate Democrats