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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, today I will cast my vote against H.R. 3288, the six-bill appropriations omnibus. This bloated package includes the following spending bills: Military Construction/Veterans Affairs, VA; State, Foreign Operations; Commerce, Justice and Science; Financial Services; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.
I will vote against this $ 1/2 trillion package because it spends $50 billion more in taxpayer money than last year--a 12 percent increase. When unemployment stands at 10 percent--and higher than that across Kentucky--and families are struggling to make ends meet, the Federal Government should not be burdening its citizens with more debt. Congress must be a better steward of public funds. Moreover, the bill includes a number of policy riders, such as spending taxpayer dollars on abortions, that undercut the culture of life that our government should be promoting.
My opposition to the omnibus as a whole comes despite the fact there are several portions of this sprawling package that I would like to vote for. For example, I support much of the Military Construction/VA bill. I voted for it as a freestanding measure when the Senate passed its version a few weeks ago. And the measure carries a number of provisions that are important to Kentuckians, such as enhanced funding of chemical demilitarization efforts at the Blue Grass Army Depot, added monies for the soldiers and their families at Fort Campbell, and a provision honoring Kentucky veteran Robley Rex. The Military Construction/VA bill also includes a number of important national priorities that I support such as modernizing troop housing, expanding mortgage relief for the men and women in uniform, enhancing rural health care for our veterans, improving family housing for our soldiers, bolstering mental health care for returning combat veterans, aiding homeless veterans, and strengthening the ability of the VA to process claims more quickly. Were the Military Construction/VA measure a freestanding bill, I would vote for it.
Aside from the Military Construction/VA portion of the omnibus, I also regret I cannot register my support for certain parts of the State, Foreign Operations appropriations bill. I favor a number of provisions in the latter bill including funding for Israel, support for our allies in the war on terror and monies for Burmese refugees.
Finally, there are segments of the other four bills in this package that reflect Kentucky priorities that were included at my request and that I am supportive of.
In closing, it is unfortunate that the majority continues to avoid regular order. I am hopeful that the majority's effort in this regard does not presage further legislative shortcuts on matters of national importance.
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