WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the week’s business:
‘As the end of the year approaches, and the House Democrat majority continues to pour their time and attention into impeaching the president, a number of key legislative items remain outstanding.
‘For weeks, my Republican colleagues and I have been pleading with our Democratic colleagues in Congress to put aside their impeachment obsession long enough to complete some basic work for the American people. We’ve explained that American families cannot afford for Washington Democrats to obsess over impeachment and obstruct everything else.
‘So I am pleased that the last several days have brought some initial indications that sanity and progress may be breaking through. We’re still a long way from the finish line, but this week begins on a cautiously optimistic note. It appears that Democrats’ willingness to block these basic governing items may finally be giving way.
‘The National Defense Authorization Act is our annual must-pass vehicle laying out Congress’ plan for addressing military funding priorities and meeting the needs of our servicemembers. It’s a responsibility that this body has discharged in a bipartisan manner every year, without fail, for the past 58 years.
‘That’s why it was so disheartening that Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate broke with tradition and used this year’s NDAA process to insist on all manner of partisan items, including non-germane domestic policy changes. This partisan approach left the future of the Pentagon’s most urgent missions in the lurch.
‘So I’m encouraged that bicameral negotiations, with participation from the White House, reached a conclusion last week. Most of the partisan demands predictably fell away. The result is not either side’s ideal bill, but it is one that should be able to pass both chambers under the circumstances. I hope the bipartisan conference report will be signed and move quickly through each chamber so Congress can finally fulfill our responsibility to America’s armed forces for another year.
‘And then there’s the appropriations process: another fundamental responsibility which, for the good of the nation, is historically approached with a bipartisan willingness to find common ground.
‘It seemed like that might again be the case when a bicameral, bipartisan deal was struck by the President and the Speaker of the House back in July. But then, when negotiations resumed in earnest back in September, some of our Democrat colleagues realized they weren’t ready to part with partisan poison pills, after all. They ignored their own agreement and months of stalemate ensued.
‘But fortunately, our appropriators are working hard to salvage the process. Last month, Chairmen Shelby and Chairwoman Lowey and our other colleagues reached a deal on subcommittee allocations. And I understand that their hard work continued in earnest over the weekend with the goal of producing bills that both chambers could consider before the end of this year.
‘I am grateful to colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard work. I hope this progress continues and we can consider appropriations measures this month.
‘Now, there’s still one more major piece of bipartisan legislation awaiting action by House Democrats. For months, Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have been slow-walking President Trump’s landmark trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Month after month, House Democrats kept 176,000 new American jobs in limbo.
‘But finally, after weeks of a full-court press from Republicans in the House and in the Senate, we are seeing hopeful signals that Speaker Pelosi’s months-long stalling campaign may, at long last, be coming to an end. Reports suggest the Speaker may finally allow the House to vote in the near future. For our country’s sake, I certainly hope so.
‘What has been true for months is especially true now that time is short: it is going to take bipartisan collaboration and hard work for any of these outstanding legislative priorities to become law.
‘Even if House Democrats do finally relent and allow these key priorities to move forward, it is now the 11th hour, and it will require consent and cooperation for the Senate to consider legislation in a timely fashion.
‘I’d ask for that collaborative spirit from my colleagues on both sides as we move forward. We Republicans have been ready and eager for weeks to legislate on these key priorities.
‘I hope these reports are accurate that leading Democrats may finally be willing to let Congress govern. And I hope we can move forward at a brisk pace and in a bipartisan way.’
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