Our veterans deserve better. We shouldn't penalize them for the mismanagement and overspending of this Congress'
Washington, D.C. - Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday regarding the need to send a Veterans Appropriations bill to the President to sign by Veterans Day:
"We are now in the sixth week of the 2008 fiscal year and the majority still hasn't sent a single funding bill to the President for the 2007 fiscal year. It has been 20 years since Congress has waited this late in the year to send even one appropriations bill to the President.
"The Veterans Appropriations Bill, for example, passed the Senate two months ago but is still sitting here in Congress.
"So why do our friends on the other side of the aisle continue to drag their feet on this important bill?
"We know everyone agrees the bill is important, and needed.
"We know our veterans have sacrificed for our country and it's our duty to provide for them.
"We know the bill holds wide, bipartisan support and the Military Construction part of the bill is important for providing housing, readiness and improved quality of life for our troops.
"We know the President will sign it into law when he gets it.
"So why hasn't this bill been brought to the floor for a vote?
"Shouldn't we put aside the gamesmanship and send this bill to the President so it can be signed before November 11th - Veterans Day?
"But the majority has decided that it wants to tie the Veterans bill - which will be signed into law - to the Labor bill which is approximately $9 billion over the President's request - which will be vetoed.
"Now, some have said this $9 billion is not much of a difference. But to put it into context, $9 billion is more than the individual budgets of 33 states.
"It is more than the entire yearly budget for the FBI.
"It is more than the budget of the United States Coast Guard.
"More than that, this figure will serve as a starting point for next year's budget; and that will serve as the starting point for the year after that. In short, this increase will compound into $120 billion in more Washington spending over the next 10 years.
"To put this in context for American taxpayers, for this same amount of money we could have instead made permanent the marriage penalty relief and permanent the expensing for small business, and have increased taxpayers' standard deduction.
"Or, we could have provided a two-year Alternative Minimum Tax patch.
"So why attach a bill that overspends so dramatically that it won't be signed into law, and further postpone funding for our veterans?
"Our veterans deserve better. We shouldn't penalize them for the mismanagement and overspending of this Congress.
"We have a responsibility to send the Veterans bill to the President at the earliest possible time. Providing funding to our veterans by Veterans Day - November 11th -- is still a realistic and attainable goal.
"Mr. President, the election was a year ago, it's time to get serious about funding our Veterans. We must remember that our current force is composed entirely of volunteers, and they have earned our support. And if our colleagues are serious, they'll bring the Veterans bill to the floor. No gimmicks. No games."