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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Government Funding Agreement And Republican Obstruction Of The National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan, bicameral agreement to fund the government and Republican dysfunction holding up the National Defense Authorization Act. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

I begin this morning with good news.

I am happy to say that last night I reached an agreement with Leader McConnell, the Speaker, and the Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee on a Continuing Resolution that will keep the federal government funded through mid-February of next year.

This is a good compromise that allows an appropriate amount of time for both parties—in both chambers—to finish negotiations on appropriations.

This morning, the House will start the process to take up this government funding measure, and we hope they can have it passed through their chamber by the end of today.

Unfortunately, it seems Republican dysfunction could be a road block to averting an unnecessary and dangerous government shutdown.

Democrats and most Republicans—including the Republican Leader—have said they don’t want to see a Republican Shutdown. We hope cooler heads will prevail.

But just as we saw with the NDAA, a few individual Republican Senators appear determined to derail this important legislation, because of their opposition to the president’s life-saving vaccine guidelines, critical to healing our country in the middle of a pandemic.

Let’s be clear: if there is a shutdown, it will be a Republican Anti-Vaccine Shutdown.

Democrats want to get the government funded as soon as possible. It was not easy to reach this deal—it took a while to get Republican leadership on board but I am glad that we’ve gotten it done.

I thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for working with us to find a path forward. Now all that’s left are a few lone holdouts raising objections that are doomed to fail and which can be debated elsewhere.

There is no reason we should have a Republican shutdown. I have worked with the Republican Leader on an agreement that will avoid one. Now, again, I hope cooler heads will prevail on the other side so we can keep the government funded before tomorrow’s deadline.

Republican dysfunction: that seems to be what’s going on in the other side. Not by all Republican members, but by some who seem to run the Republican show.

Republican dysfunction has sadly caused immense damage on a routine, important, and largely bipartisan priority: the NDAA.

Democrats have been working in good faith with the other side for weeks—since before the Thanksgiving Holiday—to secure an agreement to approve our annual defense bill.

Last night, because of the objections of one Republican, the NDAA has once again been prevented from moving forward. As I said last night, the amendment pushed by my colleague would certainly raise a Blue Slip objection in the House and thus kill the entire NDAA.

Now, the Senator from Florida says there are no Blue Slip issues. But this isn’t a matter of opinion—the authority here rests with the Ways and Means Committee in the House and they have stated unequivocally that his proposal would raise Blue Slip issues.

There is no objection to the substance of the amendment presented by the Senior Senator from Florida. But it simply would violate the provision in our constitution that requires revenue measures to originate in the House. Other members had amendments with similar issues, but they worked with the Ways and Means Committee in the House to resolve them, because they are the arbiter.

Senator Rubio has not done the same.

It’s unfortunate that this misguided demand of a single Republican Senator is preventing this important legislation to support our national security from moving in the Senate, particularly in light of the fact that so many amendments were allowed to be offered by Senator Reed and Senator Inhofe.

The number of amendments that would be voted on, let me repeat, would exceed the total number of amendments that were offered on the NDAA, under the four years of Republican leadership during Donald Trump's presidency. So to say that we are in a process that is unbalanced or unfair is totally false. It's just simply one person holding it up.

For the sake of our troops and their families, I hope this Republican dysfunction can be addressed.