11.05.15

Daines: Bipartisan Vote to Move Forward Veterans Funding Bill Is How Washington Should Work

Daines urges Senate Democrats to end block of critical defense funding legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Senator Steve Daines today applauded the bipartisan Senate vote to move forward debate on legislation to fund critical veterans' services and noted that bipartisan cooperation on spending bills is “how Washington should work.”

Daines also reaffirmed the need for Senate Democrats to end their political block on Defense Appropriations legislation, which Democrats doubled-down on earlier today by voting to block consideration of the funding bill. 

“It is welcome news that Senate Democrats are joining Republican in prioritizing the needs of our nation’s veterans. These selfless men and women should have easy access to the resources, services and medical care that they need – moving forward debate on this critical bill is a step in that direction,” Daines stated. “But it’s not enough to just care for our service members after they have retired – we need to ensure our men and women in uniform have the support they need to protect our nation in this increasingly dangerous world. It’s time for Senate Democrats to end their senseless block on the bipartisan Defense Appropriations bill and do what’s right for the men and women who fight for our freedoms every day.”

Daines noted that both appropriations bills considered by the Senate today contain critical support for Montana’s military missions and Montana veterans. 

More information on Montana priorities contained in the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act can be found here. Montana priorities in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act are available here

Before today’s votes, Daines took to the Senate floor to reaffirm his frustration with Senate Democrats’ refusal to allow consideration of FY16 Department of Defense Appropriations legislation.

Click here to download Daines’ remarks.

Click here to watch Daines’ remarks.

“As we approach Veterans Day next week, today marks the third time that Democrats have blocked this critical legislation to fund our troops,” Daines stated on the Senate floor. “This comes at a time when our troops are actively engaged in multiple theaters abroad and they need the critical support for our nation’s growing missions overseas. But rather than passing this vital funding bill, my Democrat colleagues would rather play politics and perpetuate the obstruction that plagues their party.” 

Daines gave the following remarks on the Senate floor this morning:

“For months, we’ve called for Senate Democrats to stand and support our troops and pass the Defense Appropriations legislation.

“In fact, this is the first time since 2009 that all 12 appropriations bills were reported out of committee—most with strong bipartisan support. 

“I serve on the Appropriations Committee, in fact I serve on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. 

“But today we are once again considering opening debate on the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2016 – a bill that passed out of the Appropriations Committee on June 11 with a very strong bipartisan vote of 27-3.  

“As we approach Veterans Day next week, today could mark the third time that Democrats have blocked this critical legislation to fund our troops.

“This comes at a time when our troops are actively engaged in multiple theaters abroad and they need the critical support for our nation’s growing missions overseas.

“But rather than passing this vital funding bill, my Democrat colleagues would rather play politics and perpetuate the obstruction that plagues their party.

“The Minority Leader’s constituents in Nevada deserve more. Montanans deserve more. Americans deserve more.

“Here we are debating— for the third time – simply to proceed on Defense Appropriations legislation and open it up for the debate.

“Let’s be clear, the way the process works we first have to vote to bring the bill to the floor to begin deliberation– this the greatest deliberative body in the world we can’t even deliberate on the Defense Appropriations bill because our friends across the aisle are blocking it. 

“It is time to open it up for debate, open it up for amendments this is the process of the United States Senate. The American people, the troops deserve better.

“But it appears that the Democrat Leader and his Democrat colleagues would rather huddle in backrooms somewhere and concoct yet another deal behind closed doors – because they would rather negotiate in private than engage in an open and honest debate in front of the American people. 

“Unfortunately today, Senate Democrats will put partisan politics ahead of funding for troops. 

“The Senior Senator from New York the likely next Senate Democrat leader, has already foretold that Democrats would rather throw together another massive spending package than allow for open consideration of each part of the nation’s budget.

"No wonder we are $18 going on $19 trillion in debt. 

“He said: ‘We could pass a defense bill and then they could say, Well, we'll do a [continuing resolution] on the rest of it, violating the 50-50 deal. We need to negotiate an omnibus all at once and all together.’ 

“I reject that. 

“Montanans know firsthand the importance of supporting our men and women in uniform. The passage of this legislation is critical to carrying out our missions in an increasingly dangerous world. 

“It’s important to the missions we support in Montana.

“This Defense Appropriations bill protects Montana Air National Guard’s C-130 mission by moving forward with Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) Increments 1 and 2, which are improvements from the original, costly AMP program.

“This will ensure that the C-130s at the Montana Air National Guard will be certified to continue flying by 2020 and provide a pathway for a full-scale avionics upgrade that addresses outdated components.

“It also funds key engine modifications for those C-130s.

“But Senate Democrats would prefer to once again obstruct regular order – much in the same fashion they did during the past few years, which became the hallmark of a failed Democrat led Senate majority.

“As the Senate heads home for the weekend I challenge my Democrat colleagues to look their veterans, active duty troops, and military families in the eye and ask yourselves: did I serve these selfless men and women, or the Washington establishment?

“I think we know which one they will choose. 

“I encourage my Senate Democrat colleagues to change course, we have a chance to change course on this upcoming vote, and vote yes on moving this critical defense legislation forward.”  

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