In a wholly unprecedented move, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is attempting to shut down the work of the United States Senate to address crucial national security issues by prematurely invoking cloture on the Department of Defense Authorization Bill. At a time of war, it is the duty of the Senate and each Senator to spend more than just three days working on this crucial piece of legislation. Filing cloture on the Defense Authorization bill was done to prevent debate on key national security priorities, hoping that Senate Republicans could prevent their lack of support for these priorities from being exposed. Invoking cloture would mean that key amendments in support of our troops and our national security will be excluded from further debate on the bill.
Republican leaders cut debate extraordinarily short, file earliest cloture motion since 1987. Senator Frist’s decision to file cloture today on the Department of Defense Authorization Bill is the earliest motion on this annual bill since records have been kept starting in 1987. Offering the cloture motion on only the second full day of debate is grossly premature. [Senate Armed Services Committee Democrats]
National Defense is clearly not a Republican priority. In a clear sign of the Republican Leadership’s failure to make national security and the protection of Americans from terrorism a priority, Senator Frist offered an amendment to protect the Boy Scouts as his first amendment on the bill. [S. Amdt. 1342 to S. 1042, 7/21/05]
REPUBLICAN LEADERS PREVENT PROGRESS ON KEY NATIONAL SECURITY PRIORITIES:
Republicans stop efforts to increase support for our troops. Though our nation’s military is experiencing unprecedented strain, Republican leaders’ decision to invoke cloture means that key amendments for troops will likely not receive consideration:
- Preserving the all-volunteer Army. Senator Reid introduced an amendment to establish a National Commission on the Future of an All-Volunteer Army to address the problems created by President Bush’s mismanagement and avert a return to the days of the draft and to address the current problems with recruitment and retention.
- Easing financial burdens for service members deployed abroad. When service members deploy to theaters of conflict such as Iraq and Afghanistan, they often experience significant difficulties in managing their financial obligations at home, such as mortgage payments and credit card debt. Senator Bayh has offered several amendments to increase protections and enforcement for troops under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, and Senator Clinton has introduced an amendment to provide consumer education for service members to help them manage their finances and avoid pitfalls such as predatory lending.
Republicans stop efforts to bolster support for members of the National Guard and Reserve and their families. Particularly hard hit by increased operations tempo and overextension have been the members of the National Guard and Reserve and their families, yet Republican leaders’ decision to invoke cloture means that key amendments for reservists and families will likely not receive consideration:
- Improving support for reservists’ families. Senator Dayton has proposed an amendment to increase resources for assisting reservists’ families with child care and to expand National Guard and Reserve Family Assistance Centers. Senator Murray has also introduced an amendment to authorize the Secretary of Defense to provide child care funding for dispersed Guard and Reserve families that do not have access to on-base child care during deployments.
- Providing financial stability for activated reservists. Senator Durbin has filed an amendment to require the federal government to pay any federal employees mobilized for active service in the Guard or Reserve the difference between their civilian and military salaries. This amendment will allow the government to set an example for private employers in supporting our reservists during a time of conflict.
Republicans stop efforts to take weapons of mass destruction (WMD) out of the hands of terrorists. The President repeatedly asserts that WMD pose the gravest threat to our national security, yet Republican leaders’ decision to invoke cloture means that key nonproliferation amendments will likely not receive consideration:
- Effectively combating the spread of WMD. Senator Reid introduced an amendment to require the Administration to update and expand the National Strategy to Combat WMD to address the unfortunate progress by North Korea and Iran to expand its nuclear weapon ambitions and capabilities.
- Confronting North Korea’s nuclear proliferation. Senator Reid has introduced an amendment to commission an unclassified report on the size and nature of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and to call upon the Administration to fully empower U.S. negotiators to resolve the crisis at the next round of six-party talks.
- Preventing terrorists from obtaining loose nuclear material. Senator Conrad introduced an amendment to make it our nation’s policy to undertake all necessary efforts to secure 100 percent of the former Soviet Union’s weapons-grade nuclear material by 2008.
Republicans stop efforts to improve our country’s ability to fight terrorists. Recent attacks in England and Egypt have highlighted al Qaeda’s continuing capabilities, yet Republican leaders’ decision to invoke cloture means that key anti-terrorism amendments will likely not receive consideration:
- Winning the Global War on Terrorism. Establishing metrics to assess performance and progress in the war on terrorism is critical to the ability of policymakers to know what is working and how the United States must improve its strategy. Senator Reid has introduced an amendment to create a commission to determine a set of metrics for measuring success and to assess current U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism.
Republicans stop efforts to provide health care to veterans. Despite a dramatic influx of new veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, Republican leaders’ decision to invoke cloture means that key amendments will likely not receive consideration:
- Guaranteeing adequate health care from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). Recently, VA Secretary Nicholson has testified that the VA may experience a total funding shortfall for Fiscal Years 2005 and 2006 as great as $4.5 billion dollars. To ensure that our veterans receive adequate health care, Senator Stabenow has offered an amendment to provide guaranteed health care funding for the VA each year.