Legislation Works to Rebuild America’s Military, Advance Medical Research, Combat Opioid Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today delivered remarks on the Senate floor regarding the consideration of H.R. 6157. This bill packages the eighth and ninth Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations measures to be processed by the full Senate this year – Department of Defense; and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. Both of the measures included in the appropriations package were passed by the full committee with near-unanimous support.
Senator Shelby’s full remarks, as prepared, are as follows:
“This afternoon the Senate begins voting on amendments to the fiscal year 2019 Defense, Labor-HHS appropriations bill.
“At the end of last week I offered a more detailed outline of the critical funding in this bill for America’s military, so I will not repeat myself on the particulars.
“Today, I simply want to remind my colleagues of what is at stake with this legislation and our path to success.
“What is at stake? First and foremost, our national security.
“Earlier this year, the President signed into law the largest increase in military spending in 15 years.
“This legislation accelerates that increase and provides our men and women in uniform with the largest pay raise they have seen in nearly a decade.
“So, the number one thing at stake here is rebuilding our military and taking care of our troops.
“This bill also provides for a wide range of critical domestic priorities, including education, medical research and funding to combat the opioid epidemic. All very important.
“Recent history suggests we face a tall task in passing these bills on the Senate floor. The Senate has not passed a Labor-HHS appropriations bill in more than a decade.
“It has been even longer since the President was able to sign a Defense appropriations bill into law before the end of the fiscal year. Why? Because, in the past, poison pills have blown up the process or foreclosed it altogether.
“I appreciate that one Senator’s poison pill is often another Senator’s priority.
“But I strongly urge my colleagues to focus on accomplishing the big picture priorities I have underscored here. We know where the fault lines run, and I hope we can avoid them.
“There are reasons to believe that this year will be a different year – that we will produce a different outcome.
“First among them, a unified desire to avoid another omnibus spending bill.
“Second, we come to the floor this week on the heels of a string of recent successes in passing appropriations bills.
“And third, each of the bills in this package passed the Appropriations Committee by a vote of 30 – 1.
“These factors paved the way for the full Senate to consider this package, and I want to thank the Leaders on both sides – Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer – for agreeing to bring it to the floor.
“I also want to thank the Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy, for sticking to the agreement he and I made to move these bills in a bipartisan manner.
“Mr. Vice Chairman, we would not be in this position without your efforts, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.
“I say to all my colleagues: we collectively called for regular order in the appropriations process. And now we have it.
“I am optimistic that we will continue to show the American people that we are here to work, and that means debating and disposing of amendments, passing appropriations bills, and accomplishing the job they sent us here to do.
“I hope my optimism is not misplaced. The stakes are simply too high. Thank you; I yield the floor.”