Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the responsibility of Congress to provide adequate funding to our troops, helping to ensure that our men and women in uniform are prepared to meet any threat. Thune urged Democrats to put aside partisan politics and work with Republicans to pass the defense appropriations bill.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, ISIS took a big hit over the weekend when U.S. forces raided ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria.
“Al-Baghdadi died in the raid after he detonated a suicide vest in a final act of cowardice, killing three children with him.
“His second in command was confirmed killed in a second military strike hours later, leaving the organization temporarily leaderless.
“Mr. President, over the past few years, ISIS has spilled a river of blood across the Middle East.
“Its brutality has set it apart even among other terrorist organizations.
“Torture, rape, enslavement, crucifixions, beheadings, the deliberate targeting of whole populations based on their religious beliefs … the list of crimes is long and often nearly unspeakable.
“The world is a safer place today because of al-Baghdadi’s death.
“But this impact will only be temporary unless we dedicate ourselves to ensuring that ISIS is permanently defeated.
“Mr. President, the successful raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound is a reminder of the fact that our military may be called on at a moment’s notice to head halfway around the world to fight evil.
“The men and women of the United States military stand on guard 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ready to put themselves between us and danger.
“This past weekend I had the honor of helping to welcome home 112 South Dakota Army National Guard soldiers of the 147th Forward Support Company and Bravo Battery of the 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion.
“These citizen soldiers were in Europe for nearly a year, working with our NATO allies and increasing unit readiness.
“As members of Congress, we have no more fundamental responsibility than ensuring that our men and women in uniform are prepared to meet any threat.
“And we do that by providing timely and adequate funding for the current and future needs of our armed forces.
“That means funding the military through regular-order appropriations bills – not through temporary funding measures that leave the military in doubt about funding levels and unable to start essential new projects.
“Unfortunately, our efforts to fund the military in a timely fashion have been stymied by Democrats, who blocked the Senate from passing the defense appropriations bill in September before the end of the fiscal year.
“We’re now a month into the new fiscal year, and Democrats are still indicating that they intend to block this year’s defense appropriations bill.
“Let me briefly review what Democrats are blocking.
“They’re blocking funding to support a pay increase for our military men and women.
“They’re blocking funding for weapons and equipment that our troops need right now.
“They’re blocking investment in the equipment and technology that our military will need to defeat the threats of the future.
“They’re blocking funding for missile defense.
“For research and development.
“For ships, planes, and combat vehicles to update our aging fleets.
“And they’re blocking funding for our allies, including $250 million in military assistance for Ukraine.
“Let me just repeat that last point, Mr. President:
“Democrats, who are currently trying to impeach the president for allegedly delaying Ukraine funding, are currently blocking $250 million in assistance for Ukraine.
“I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of both irony and hypocrisy.
“Mr. President, toward the end of the summer, it looked like Democrats might actually be willing to work with Republicans to pass this year’s appropriations bills.
“Both Democrats and Republicans agreed to a bipartisan deal laying out funding levels for both defense and non-defense spending.
“But apparently that was as far as Senate Democrats were prepared to go.
“Now that it’s come time to honor the spirit of that agreement and get this year’s defense appropriations bill done, Senate Democrats are balking.
“Mr. President, Democrats would like us to believe that they’re serious about legislating – that their years-long obsession with impeaching the president isn’t distracting them from doing their job.
“Well, Mr. President, they’re going to have a chance to prove that in the near future.
“If Democrats are actually serious about legislating, if they’re serious about meeting their responsibilities, then they will work with Republicans to move forward on the defense appropriations bill and get this legislation to the president as soon as possible.
“I hope that’s what they’ll choose to do.
“As Chairman Shelby noted on the floor last week, Congress’ failure to do its job and fund our military is making the military’s job more difficult.
“And that, as Chairman Shelby noted, is unacceptable.
“It’s time to get our men and women in uniform the funding they need and the pay increase they deserve.
“It’s time to get this year’s defense appropriations bill done.”