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Shelby says Appropriations Committee is restoring America’s defenses

Senator Richard Shelby questions Secretary of Defense Ash Carter during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing on the DoD fiscal year 2017 budget request at The Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington D.C., Apr. 27, 2016. Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz

Friday, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, spoke in the Senate floor in favor of HR6157. Shelby said that passing the bill will accelerate rebuilding America’s military.

HR6157 is a bill that packages two Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations measures – Department of Defense; and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. These are the eighth and ninth funding bills to be processed by the full Senate this year. Both of the measures included in the appropriations package were passed by the full committee with near-unanimous support.

Senator Shelby said that the appropriations package is absolutely essential to the strength and security of this nation.

“The package before the Senate marries the two largest fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills: Defense and Labor-HHS-Education,” Sen. Shelby said. “Each of these bills carries the near unanimous support of the Appropriations Committee. The Chairman of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee, Senator Blunt, and his Ranking Member, Senator Murray, worked together to produce a strong bipartisan bill that balances many competing priorities. I commend these senators for their hard work and thank them for their continued efforts.”

“As Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I want to provide my colleagues with an overview of the funding it contains for America’s military,” Shelby said. “Secretary Mattis – a decorated general who commands deep respect on both sides of the aisle – has warned that ‘failure to modernize our military risks leaving us with a force that could dominate the last war, but be irrelevant to tomorrow’s security.’ We cannot allow that to happen. We must rebuild America’s military. We have to defend this nation. Mr. President, I am pleased to report that this bill takes a big step in that direction. This package contains $607 billion in base defense funding. It also provides an additional $67.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.”

“The fiscal year 2018 Defense Appropriations bill, enacted earlier this year, contained the largest increase in military spending in 15 years,” Shelby continued. “The bill now before the Senate does even better by providing an additional $16 billion above the fiscal year 2018 level. This funding sustains U.S. force structure and improves military readiness. It also provides critical resources for a wide range of priorities that are essential to maintaining our technological superiority in an increasingly complex and competitive national security environment. The bill includes substantial investments in the areas of basic research, hypersonics, directed energy, artificial intelligence, microelectronics, missile defense, cybersecurity, and our test and evaluation infrastructure – among many other priorities.”

“The package before the Senate provides our men and women in uniform with the largest pay increase they have seen in nearly a decade, and they certainly deserve it,” Shelby said. “As we debate this bill over the coming days, the sacrifices of these brave men and women should be top of mind for each of us. In light of their sacrifices, it is our duty to ensure they are the best prepared and the best equipped military in the world. The American military is the most feared fighting force the world has ever known. This bill ensures that continues to be true. That is how we defend this nation.”

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“I want to thank the Vice Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee, Senator Durbin, for his valuable input in crafting this bill,” Shelby continued. “Together, I believe we have produced a balanced bill that meets the Pentagon’s objectives and includes the contributions of Senators from both sides of the aisle. I am proud to present this legislation to my colleagues and urge their strong support. In closing, I want to recognize the Vice Chairman of the full Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy, and the Leaders on both sides, Senators McConnell and Schumer. At the outset of this appropriations cycle, the four of us met and agreed to work together in an effort to return the Senate to regular order. Since that time, the Appropriations Committee passed all 12 bills before the July 4th recess, all with strong bipartisan margins. The first time that’s been done in 30 years.”

“The first minibus contained three bills and passed the Senate by a vote of 86 to 5,” Shelby said. “It is now in conference with the House. The second minibus contained four bills, two of which had not seen the light of day on the Senate floor in many years – Interior and FSGG. That package passed by a vote of 92 – 6. Hopefully it will soon be in conference as well. By August, the Senate had passed more appropriations bills than the House. That had not happened in 20 years. None of this would have been possible without the partnership of Vice Chairman Leahy and the leadership of Senators McConnell and Schumer. I thank each of them once again. But our work continues. We now have an opportunity to extend the success we have generated. It has been more than a decade since the Senate passed a Labor-HHS appropriations bill. And it has been a dozen years since the President was able to sign a Defense appropriations bill into law before the end of the fiscal year. These two records must be broken. We must not only provide the resources necessary to rebuild our military, we must do so before the end of the fiscal year. There is no time to waste when it comes to our national security.”

“With the continued cooperation of my colleagues, I am confident that we will continue to get our work done in a deliberate and timely manner,” Shelby concluded.

The Senate’s consideration of HR6157 follows the recent passage of HR5895, a minibus including three FY2019 appropriations bills that passed the Senate 86 to 5, and HR6147, another minibus including four funding measures that passed the Senate with the overwhelming support of 92 to 6.

All 12 of the Senate’s FY2019 appropriations measures were passed out of the committee by wide bipartisan margins and were approved by a cumulative committee vote of 363 to 9.

Richard Shelby is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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