Funding Our Troops and Veterans Are Achievable Goals

Press Release

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Nov. 15, 2007
Location: Washington, DC

‘The Democratic strategy is delaying critical help to veterans and their families.'

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor Thursday on the consequences of Democrats' mismanagement with regard to funding for our veterans:

"Americans were shocked earlier this year to learn about the conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center. And members of Congress were right to seize the moment by pledging to veterans that they would do everything they could to give them what they need. As Speaker Pelosi put it: "In the military we always say that in battle, we will never leave a soldier on the battlefield. And we say and when they come home, we will not abandon them. So we should have the best possible opportunities for them when they come home."

"The Veterans Spending Bill gave Speaker Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats in Congress an opportunity to make good on that pledge. And so far they've squandered it.

"The Veterans bill was ready more than two months ago. It had overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers: the House version passed in June by a vote of 409 to 2. The Senate version passed in September by a vote of 92 to 1. And the President has been ready to sign it for weeks.

"What's the holdup? The Democrats must have decided it somehow works to their advantage to hold onto this bill for political leverage. We know this because they attached it to a bill the President said he would reject, and which he did reject. Now it's back on the shelf — and veterans are still waiting. Americans need to know what's going on here: Democrats are holding onto this bill which contains money for critical new programs for Veterans returning from battle.

"There's still time to change course. And we must. So I call on my Democratic friends to end this game: the fiscal year has come and gone without acting on this bill. Veterans Day passed without acting it. Now is the time to take it off the shelf, blow the dust off, and get it to the President's desk for a signature before the Thanksgiving recess.

"The Democratic strategy on this bill is meant to put pressure on the President. But all it's really doing is putting pressure on an already-strained VA, and delaying critical help to veterans and their families. Troops are finally coming home from Iraq. They deserve better than this when they get here, remove their uniforms, and return to our communities.

"At this moment two very good and worthy goals stand before us: funding our veterans and getting funding to our troops in harm's way. We promised them we would do this with both the Gregg and the Murray Amendments. We can achieve it before the recess. Republicans are ready. I call on the Democrats to join us in achieving these good things before recess."