Senator John ThuneThis time of year is typically a busy period for Congress because all federal spending measures must be signed into law by the end of September. Sadly, Congress has not sent one of the 12 Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations bills to the President for his signature. Because of this inaction, Congress was recently forced to pass a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown. This is certainly not the way we should be doing business.
Under the Democrat-led Congress, there has been a lack of significant legislation passed and signed into law. In addition to being behind schedule in passing the annual appropriations bills, Congress has yet to pass other important measures such as the Farm Bill, an Energy Bill, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization bill, or the Defense Authorization bill
With regard to inaction on the Defense bill, this will be the first time in 45 years that the Senate has not passed a defense bill before the start of a new fiscal year. This is certainly not the message that we should be sending our men and women in uniform while they are engaging a hostile enemy in foreign lands.
The failure to pass this legislation delays the much earned and deserved pay raise for our soldiers, it delays the additional Mine Resistant Ambush Protection vehicles that our troops need, and delays the Wounded Warrior legislation that provides care for our veterans when they come home from serving their country.
As I have been saying over the past few months, an extension of the Farm Bill will most likely be needed. A new Farm Bill will have a great impact on our state’s farmers and ranchers, as well as the tourism industry, rural development, energy, and our main streets. This is not legislation that should be thrown together in a day or two -- it is far too important. Hopefully the Democrat Chairman of the Agriculture Committee will schedule a mark-up in the near future so we can send a good farm bill to the President later this year.
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.