Senator John ThuneAfter months of playing politics with the future of our military funding, the Senate has passed the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations bill. The Senate leadership is finally starting to get work done, but we certainly have a long way to go. None of the 12 appropriations bills that Congress must pass have been sent to the President, and Fiscal Year 2008 has already begun.
In order to keep the government running without finishing the appropriations process, Congress passed continuing resolutions to fund federal programs, including our Armed Forces, at last year's levels. This is not the way we should be doing business.
The failure to pass this legislation quickly has delayed the much earned and deserved pay raise for our soldiers, the additional Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles that our troops need, and the Wounded Warrior legislation that provides care for our veterans when they come home from serving their country.
In addition to addressing the very serious needs of our troops in the field, the Defense Appropriations bill includes necessary funds for ongoing research on how to provide better equipment to our armed forces. For example, the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology will use funding from the bill to investigate improving countermeasures against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as well as studying possible enhancements for vehicle armor. Money has been allotted for improving the payload capability of Ellsworth's B-1 bomber fleet, and funds are provided for the micro-electronics program on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation.
Based on what I have seen so far this year, the Democrat leadership in Congress is stalled in neutral, and the American people deserve better than that. We must do a better job in addressing major national priorities, and I intend to be part of the solution.
Working to provide the funding our troops in the field require is an important first step, and I hope that Congressional leaders recognize that playing politics with the appropriations process is not in the best interest of our nation.