Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the importance of ensuring that U.S. troops have the funding they need to do their jobs and come home safely. Thune also urged Senate Democrats to abandon their partisan games by moving forward with the defense appropriations bill to give our military the resources it needs.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last weekend I had the privilege of attending the welcome-home ceremony for 112 members of the South Dakota National Guard.
“These men and women, who serve in the 147th Forward Support Company or in Bravo Battery of the 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion, were deployed to Europe as part of Atlantic Resolve – a partnership with our allies in Eastern and Central Europe developed in response to Russia’s invasion of the Crimea in 2014.
“Atlantic Resolve allows U.S. and allied forces to build strong working relationships and hone their ability to conduct joint operations.
“Members of Bravo Battery and the 147th Forward Support Company spent most of the year in Europe working with partner forces.
“They participated in two multinational exercises and brought artillery to Germany and Hungary.
“These soldiers finally got home last weekend, but they didn’t leave Atlantic Resolve without South Dakota support.
“Other members of the 147th Forward Support Company and Alpha Battery of the 1-147th Field Artillery Battalion headed for Europe in September.
“Other South Dakota-based military members – airmen from Ellsworth Air Force Base – also deployed abroad recently.
“Four B-1 bombers from the 34th and 37th Bomb Squadrons at Ellsworth made a flying trip to Saudi Arabia late this month to support the U.S. military presence there.
“The bombers flew directly from South Dakota to Saudi Arabia, refueling six times in mid-air, once again demonstrating the incredible capability of this aircraft – and of our Ellsworth airmen.
“Mr. President, Atlantic Resolve, the B-1 mission, the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a raid conducted by U.S. troops – they’re all a reminder of the vital work our military members are doing.
“A lot of military missions don’t make a big splash in the news.
“We don’t hear a lot about everything our men and women in uniform are doing every day.
“We don’t hear details of all the operations, the joint exercises with our allies, the countless training evolutions, the never-ending aircraft and vehicle maintenance, the hours watching radar systems for contacts, the endless logistical work to support troops in the field, the painstaking weeks and months of intelligence gathering for a single mission.
“But every hour of every day, members of the United States military are on duty, working to keep the peace and ensure the security of our nation.
“As members of Congress, we have no greater obligation than to ensure that our troops have the resources they need.
“We owe it to the men and women who get up each day willing to lay down their lives for us.
“And we owe it to every man, woman, and child we represent, because the safety of our country depends on the strength of our military.
“Mr. President, ensuring that our troops have the resources they need obviously means ensuring that they have adequate funding.
“But it also means getting that funding to them in a timely fashion.
“It means passing regular-order appropriations bills, instead of forcing our military to rely on temporary funding measures that leave the military in doubt about funding levels and unable to start important new projects.
“Getting military funding approved in a timely manner is a priority for me and for a lot of my colleagues here in the Senate.
“Chairman Shelby worked hard this year to ensure that we could bring the defense appropriations bill to the floor in a timely fashion.
“But Senate Democrats have so far blocked Senate consideration of this legislation.
“Their refusal to allow the Senate to move forward on funding has left the military in limbo, unable to fully fund 2020 priorities and move ahead on key projects for the future.
“Later today, Democrats will have another chance to move forward with the defense appropriations bill and get our military the resources it needs.
“I’m hoping they will have a change of heart and decide that funding our military is more important than the partisan games they’ve been playing.
“Our military members are waiting on that funding.
“Their ability to do their jobs is being jeopardized by Democrats’ continued blockade of defense appropriations.
“Mr. President, we live in peace and safety every day because of the men and women of the United States military.
“It’s not a new sentiment, but it bears repeating.
“Because it’s too easy to forget that we would not be enjoying the freedoms and benefits we enjoy without the constant vigilance of our men and women in uniform.
“The least – the very least – we can do in return is make sure that they have every resource they need to do their jobs and come home safely.
“I strongly urge my Democrat colleagues to vote yes on moving forward with the defense appropriations bill.”