Inhofe: Senate Democrats Shut Down Regular Order to Fund Government by Holding Up Military, Veterans Bills

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today voted for the Military Construction (MilCon) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations conference report for fiscal year 2017, H. Rept. 114-640, which includes emergency funding to address the Zika virus outbreak, and for the Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017. Both appropriations bills were blocked by Senate Democrats and would provide funding for our nation’s military and veterans.

“When Republicans regained the majority in the Senate, we promised to restore regular order, which included getting Congress back on track to funding the government through 12 appropriations bills. I applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for keeping us on track, processing all 12 appropriations bills this year at the quickest rate since 1988. The Majority Leader has been working to bring these bills to the Senate floor for consideration, but when it came time to provide funds for our nation’s military and veterans, Senate Democrats shut down the process with demands to increase spending for their social programs,” Inhofe said. “This will be the legacy of the past seven years — Democrats using our military as their negotiating tool to get their way with federal spending. Now we are confronted with the repercussions: a disarmed America. As a result, Russia and China are outpacing us in their military investments. Our national security is not modernizing quick enough to confront cybersecurity threats that not only present threats to our military, but also our citizens and job creators. As I’ve said many times before, our nation is in the midst of war and is being confronted with global instability that demands U.S. leadership. Accepting the downsizing of our military to levels not seen since before World War II is dangerous and will have grave repercussions not only for this generation but well into the future. When Congress returns in September, I hope my colleagues will have a change of heart and will recognize that it is our constitutional duty, first and foremost, to provide for our nation’s defense and to protect our nation’s citizens and their freedoms.”

Background on MilCon-VA Appropriations conference report for fiscal year 2017

On May 19, the Senate passed the MilCon-VA and THUD Appropriations bill, H.R. 2577, by a vote of 89-8. The legislation was conferenced with the House-passed MilCon-VA appropriations bill and the final legislation was introduced on June 22 as H.Rept. 114-640. The conference report then passed the U.S. House of Representatives by 232-176 on June 23, and was blocked by Senate Democrats on a procedural vote on June 28

The MilCon-VA Appropriations conference report would provide $82.5 billion in discretionary funding, to include increased funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs by 4 percent over fiscal year 2016 levels in order to address management problems and health care shortages, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its services to veterans. Military construction would be funded at $7.72 billion, supporting more than 200 military construction projects to include $77 million for Oklahoma. The legislation also includes $1.1 billion in emergency funding to address the Zika virus outbreak, and includes a Republican provision to waive the requirement of a Clean Water Act permit for the discharge of an approved pesticide for a 180-day period, if the pesticide application will be done by an entity authorized under state or local law. 


Background on the Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017

On July 7, Senate Democrats blocked the Defense Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2017 on a procedural vote, preventing the bill to fund the Department of Defense (DoD) from being debated and amended on the Senate floor. The legislation would fund the DoD base budget at $515.9 billion and the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) at $58.6 billion, adhering to the FY'17 National Defense Authorization Act authorization levels and Bipartisan Budget Agreement spending levels.

The Senate also voted today to go to conference on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017, naming Inhofe as a conferee.