Senate Democrats

Democrats Address Priorities to Strengthen Our National Defense

Senators Reid and Levin Discuss Efforts to Improve the Defense Authorization Bill

Washington, DC – Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Senator Carl Levin, ranking member on the Senate Armed Services committee, Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator Jack Reed, and Senator Debbie Stabenow called on the Senate today to do more to support our troops and strengthen national defense. As the Defense Authorization bill comes to the floor, Democrats expressed pleasure that the Senate has finally begun consideration of such an important bill. However, Democrats believe more can and must be done to increase accountability in the War on Terror and the war in Iraq, to keep Weapons of Mass Destruction out of terrorist hands, and to provide adequate funding for our first line of defense at home.

“Let me say that it’s about time this bill hit the Floor. The men and women defending our country deserve the Senate’s attention,” said Senator Reid. “This bill came out of committee over two months ago, and it should have been our first priority. Republicans like to talk a good game on National Security, but the truth is there is more work we need to do – on Iraq, on WMDs and in the War on Terror. It is especially egregious that we are not doing more to protect Americans who use mass transit.”

Democrats have policies to protect Americans and to support our troops. Democrats were especially disappointed that Republicans resisted efforts to increase funding for mass transit security during the Homeland Security Appropriations bill. In light of the incidents in London this morning, Democrats called on Republicans to do what is right and to do what is necessary to protect individuals who use mass transit.

“This is a good bipartisan bill that was reported out of the Armed Services Committee without a single recorded vote,” Senator Levin said. “As the Senate considers the bill over the next several days, I hope we can make this good bill even better by addressing a few issues to enhance our security and support our service members. Some of the amendments I hope to offer would increase the death gratuity for all soldiers who die on active duty; establish an independent commission to review interrogation and detention techniques and look at allegations of detainee abuse; and plug a loophole that has enabled defense contractors to charge the government more than their actual costs.”