Senate Democrats

Reid Remarks On Defense Authorization Legislation

“The National Defense Authorization Act… safeguards this nation, ensures our troops have the resources and training they need, and provides for the military families who support our fighting men and women.” 

“We cannot complete this bill until we debate and vote on the sexual assault and Guantanamo provisions. Unfortunately, last night Republicans objected to my request to schedule votes on these amendments.”

“This is a serious bill and it deserves a serious debate – not to be bogged down by unrelated political issues… I will not allow this important legislation to be sidetracked by debates and amendments unrelated to our nation’s defense.” 

Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (S.1197).  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

Today the Senate will continue debate of the National Defense Authorization Act, an important measure that safeguards this nation, ensures our troops have the resources and training they need, and provides for the military families who support our fighting men and women. This is a serious bill and it deserves a serious debate – not to be bogged down by unrelated political issues.

This measure includes a pay raise for members of the Armed Forces, and reauthorizes dozens of special pay rates and bonuses, such as bonus payments for service members who see combat or are stationed overseas. This legislation also includes robust and far-reaching provisions to combat the scourge of sexual assault in the military, including changes that would ensure perpetrators are punished and victims are protected. Senators Levin, Gillibrand, McCaskill and many others have done exceptional work to confront this terrible problem.

As we build on their work, there are additional amendments on military sexual assault that the Senate needs to consider. The Senate must also consider amendments related to the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Everyone is aware that we cannot complete this bill until we debate and vote on the sexual assault and Guantanamo provisions. Unfortunately, last night Republicans objected to my request to schedule votes on these amendments.  If we cannot even vote on amendments on these two crucial issues – which everyone agrees must be considered before we can complete work on the underlying bill – we cannot hope to make progress on dozens of other amendments Senators seek to debate.

However, I remain hopeful that we will be able to schedule votes on these amendments soon. In the meantime, Senators should not wait to debate these issues until we have scheduled votes on these amendments. Senators should come to the floor to speak on these issues now. There is limited time to complete this bill before the Thanksgiving holiday, and Senators should use that time wisely to engage in meaningful debate.

I am aware that a number of Senators wish to offer amendments on other issues as well – both defense-related and otherwise. I encourage those members to file their amendments as soon as possible. And I hope we will be able to have a robust amendment process.

However, I will not allow this important legislation to be sidetracked by debates and amendments unrelated to our nation’s defense. The United States Senate has passed the National Defense Authorization Act for more than 50 years in a row. That is the sign of the respect this institution has both for this legislation and for our nation’s Armed Forces. I am optimistic that Senators will once again consider this bill with the respect it deserves.

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