Minority Leader McConnell: Time To Address Critical National Security Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding legislative priorities:

“Before the Senate adjourned for Thanksgiving, we voted to extend federal government funding into the new year.

“I’m glad there was no appetite in the Capitol for saddling the nation with a harmful and unnecessary government shutdown.

“The short-term funding legislation produced by the Speaker of the House was an important step toward fulfilling Congress’ responsibility to pass full-year appropriations. And work continues toward restoring the sort of regular order appropriations process that Senators on both sides of the aisle have set as our goal.

“But the Senate convenes today with some extremely important outstanding business that we need to address this year. In a few short weeks, we need to deliver on several urgent national security priorities.

“For starters, a number of our colleagues are hard at work on the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act. This is Congress’ primary opportunity to shape America’s national security priorities and set the course of strategic competition with major adversaries.

“We need to empower our armed forces with a clear directive for the many challenges they face.

“We need to prepare them to deter and fight future wars, not drag them into political culture wars.

“We need to focus our military on geopolitics, not climate politics.

“But at this especially dangerous moment, we also need to deliver supplemental resources to help both America and our partners defend against linked threats from our biggest adversaries – Russia, Iran, and China.

“Make no mistake: the PRC is not deterred. Beijing didn’t take a Thanksgiving break from its historic military buildup, its threats to the freedom of navigation in international waters, or its efforts to meddle in Taiwan’s domestic politics.

“Russia is not deterred. Vladimir Putin hasn’t eased off his brutal conquest of Ukraine.

“Iran is not deterred. The world’s top state sponsor of terrorism has continued to underwrite an alarming surge in attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria since the barbaric attacks of October 7th.

“Hamas is not deterred. Even during a temporary pause in fighting, terrorists are clearly determined, with Iran’s help, to wipe Israel off the map, ‘from the river to the sea.’

“America needs to stand with our friends and stand up to aggressors. And Senate Republicans have been working for weeks to ensure that supplemental legislation includes robust investments in the hard power and defense industrial capacity we need to confront them head-on.

“But on this side of the aisle, we also recognize that national security begins here at home.

“Last month’s total southern border encounters marked the busiest October in decades of CBP records. And the harsh reality of the Biden Administration’s border crisis continues to impact millions of Americans in cities across the country.

“So I’m thankful that Senator Lankford, Senator Graham, and Senator Cotton have been working diligently to produce legislation to address this crisis head-on.

“Senate Republicans have been laser-focused on actually fixing our broken asylum process, not just pouring more money into a system that’s simply not working. And our Democratic colleagues would do well to take these efforts seriously.

“The bottom line is simple: We don’t have the luxury of addressing glaring threats to our national security one at a time. Crises don’t solve themselves just because Washington can’t muster the political will to address them.

“Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have already suggested they want to condition urgent resources for one of our top security priorities on not addressing another one.

“Apparently, our colleagues are considering putting support for Israel on the chopping block unless we promise not to fix the border crisis they helped create.

“So Madam President, this sort of cynical, short-sighted politics has denied the American people real border security too many times.

“The challenges facing America are connected. And the time to address them – each of them – is now.”

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