Senate Majority Leader McConnell Lays Out Senate’s September Agenda
‘I know that securing this emergency funding is very important for the president, and I know that preventing a default or shutdown amidst such a historic natural disaster is also very important to him — and even more so now with another major hurricane on the way. These are the president’s immediate priorities: Pass disaster relief. Prevent a default. Fund the government. They are my immediate priorities as well. I’m sure colleagues feel the same. We have to get all three of these things done, and we have to do so quickly.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor on Tuesday regarding the Senate’s upcoming agenda items:
“I want to begin by extending the Senate’s heartfelt sympathies to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We’ve seen the devastation across Texas, Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast. We know the recovery will not be easy nor will it be quick. We also understand the federal government’s important role in assisting impacted communities.
“Last week, the president submitted a supplemental emergency funding request that will allow this critical work to continue. It will also allow our country to be better prepared for future natural disasters. That’s especially important given the potential for another major hurricane to strike our country this week.
“As I said when the president submitted his emergency funding request, the Senate will work closely with his administration and the House of Representatives to deliver that much-needed relief. I’m glad to see that the House Appropriations Committee has already taken important steps to get us there, and I look forward to the House sending over legislation so that the Senate can act on it as soon as possible.
“I know that securing this emergency funding is very important for the president, and I know that preventing a default or shutdown amidst such a historic natural disaster is also very important to him — and even more so now with another major hurricane on the way. These are the president’s immediate priorities: Pass disaster relief. Prevent a default. Fund the government. They are my immediate priorities as well. I’m sure colleagues feel the same. We have to get all three of these things done, and we have to do it very quickly.
“In the case of the debt limit, we need to act quickly given the new uncertainty from the large costs of storm recovery. As the president’s budget director wrote in his letter to Congress last week, ‘Given the need for additional spending as a result of disaster response and initial recovery from Hurricane Harvey, the administration continues to urge the Congress to act expeditiously to ensure that the debt ceiling does not affect these critical response and recovery efforts.’ Otherwise, he continued, it may not be possible to get those critical resources to Americans who need them.
“Here’s why, as Treasury Secretary Mnuchin explained, ‘Our first priority is to make sure that the state gets money; it is critical. And to do that, we need to make sure we raise the debt limit. So if Congress appropriates the money, but I don't have the ability to borrow more money and pay for it, we’re not going to be able to get that money to the state.’ He called for Congress to ‘put politics aside’ and get these things done as quickly as possible. That was the Secretary of the Treasury.
“I look forward to continuing to discuss these important issues with the president’s team and congressional leaders of both parties at the White House tomorrow. I look forward to discussing other important shared priorities as well.
“Nominees, for instance. It was good to see the Senate clear a large package of nominees before we left for the state work period. Now our work continues. There are other vacancies to fill. There are nominees, for instance, for positions that are critical to recovering from Hurricane Harvey. We have to work together to get those nominees confirmed quickly, and we have to keep working together to fill other vacant positions in the federal government too.
“Another issue of great importance is tax reform. We’ll actually have another meeting at the White House today on that issue specifically. It’s clear that the president is very engaged on this issue. As he wrote in an op-ed over the weekend, ‘Our self-destructive tax code costs Americans millions of jobs, trillions of dollars and billions of hours spent on compliance and paperwork… We owe it to the American people to fix this broken system. American businesses want to prosper on our shores, and middle-class families are ready for more growth, more jobs and higher pay.’
“That’s the aim of tax reform, and that’s the message I hope the president will continue to take around the country — including his trip this week to North Dakota. In the meantime, work will continue among members and committees in both chambers to keep moving forward on this important issue.
“In addition to these issues, I also look forward to tomorrow’s discussion about the national security challenges before us. Administration officials will be coming to Congress later that day to give a briefing on challenges like North Korea and Afghanistan. I’m looking forward to that important meeting. These are complicated issues, and they will require smart responses from both the Administration and Congress.
“Here in Congress, we’ll have an opportunity to address some of them soon as we work to pass related legislation like the annual defense authorization bill. The Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator McCain, will take the lead on that legislation. We’ve kept Senator McCain and his family in our thoughts over the state work period. We’re glad to have him back with us. We know he’ll again manage this year’s legislation with skill and dedication.
“There are obviously other important issues before us as well. There are many goals we share with the administration. There’s a lot we want to get done. And we have three critically important things before us right now that we need to get done quickly — pass disaster relief, prevent a default so that those emergency resources can actually get to Americans who need them, and keep the government funded. Those are the three important things before us now. We will continue working with the administration and our friends on both sides of the aisle to accomplish those things.”