Oct 01 2015
WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) today voted in favor of moving vital funding for our nation’s veterans and military families forward and called the Democrats’ filibuster of vital funding bills “the wrong direction for our country.”
The Military Construction and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations Act (H.R.2029) failed to reach cloture as the result of a Democrat filibuster.
Earlier in the day, Boozman spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues on the other side of aisle to abandon their filibuster strategy so that the Senate can return to regular order and pass the twelve funding bills, including the Military Construction and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Appropriations Act
“For the first time in six years, every spending bill has cleared committee. All twelve. And most of them passed with strong bipartisan support,” Boozman said. “The full Senate has the responsibility to consider each of these bills as well. Leader McConnell has committed to this approach. Our caucus is behind it 100 percent. The Minority, on the other hand, is actively working against it.”
Full text of Boozman’s remarks as prepared:
Yesterday, Congress passed yet another short-term continuing resolution. While this avoids a shutdown, it is far from ideal.
Certainly a shutdown is not good governing. I think we all agree on that much.
I’d remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that continuing resolutions are no better.
While the American people demand that we get our financial house in order, Washington continues to pass stop-gap after stop-gap funding bill.
Instead of tackling this challenge head-on, these short-term extensions continue current funding levels and prevent us from stopping waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Just like a shutdown, this too is no way to govern.
There is another option. We don’t have to choose between a continuing resolution or a shutdown.
The third choice—the right choice—is for this chamber to follow regular order and pass all twelve appropriations bills.
We’ve done our work at the Appropriations committee.
For the first time in six years, every spending bill has cleared committee. All twelve. And most of them passed with strong bipartisan support.
I commend Appropriations Chairman Cochran and Leader McConnell for their leadership to make that happen.
The full Senate has the responsibility to consider each of these bills as well.
Leader McConnell has committed to this approach. Our caucus is behind it 100 percent.
The Minority, on the other hand, is actively working against it.
Committee passage of these twelve bills was no easy task. Both sides made compromises. These bills were the product of a great deal of give and take.
We worked very hard for months to ensure that these bills reflect the spending and policy priorities that are right for our nation. These bills should not simply be left for dead.
The President is encouraging Senate Democrats to obstruct the appropriations process because he wants more domestic spending for agencies like the EPA and the IRS.
This is not the direction our country needs to go.
I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle reconsider this failed strategy.
The funding bills show the American people that we share their priorities.
For instance, the bill before us takes care of our active military and our veterans when they return home.
Clearly this is an area of bipartisan agreement. Yet talk of a filibuster remains.
Here’s what the Minority is considering filibustering: increases in funding for veterans’ services; military housing and family support; hospital and health facilities construction—just to name a few vital things in this bill.
The bill increases funding in areas where our veterans need it most—health care, benefit claims processing and medical research.
It also includes funding for projects to ensure military readiness and improve the quality of life for military families.
And in light the numerous scandals that have plagued VA, it includes some strong policy reforms, such as protection for whistleblowers.
These are funding and policy priorities for both sides of the aisle. That’s why this bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee with strong bipartisan support. That’s why it should move forward without resistance on the Senate floor.
And yet the Minority is threatening a filibuster for reasons that have nothing to do with this bill. This is all to protect the President’s agenda.
President Obama wants spending increases across the board. He has issued a blanket veto threat for any appropriations bill that does not meet his demands.
Basically, the President’s view is that if the EPA and the IRS don’t get more money, then neither should our veterans or military families.
It is my hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle recognize that this is out of line with our nation’s priorities.
The right thing to do is to reject the President’s call to obstruct so we can continue to work together for the good of the country.
Determining how we allocate taxpayer dollars is our responsibility, not the President’s.
Continuing resolutions have been all too common while they should be a rare exception. We need to reestablish our priority of regular order and pass the individual funding bills that are needed to keep the government open.
We can start that today by moving the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill forward.
I yield the floor.