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Thune: Democrats Continue to Have Misplaced Priorities

“It’s just too bad that Democrats have been so focused on expanding government that they haven’t actually taken time to do some of the essential business of government.”

October 28, 2021

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today called out Democrats for prioritizing their radical agenda and government expansion ahead of passing the National Defense Authorization Act or critical legislation to address the energy and border crises. Thune noted that Democrats are continuing to ignore important issues that are impacting Americans and are instead focusing solely on their reckless tax-and-spending spree.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, work continues on Democrats’ socialist spending spree.

“And the Senate seems to be on track to vote on their bill in the near future.

“Well, maybe.

“It depends who you ask at any given time around here these days.

“Just to highlight the high level of uncertainty surrounding this process, President Biden was on Capitol Hill just this morning – his second visit this month – to twist the arms of still undecided Democrats.

“As they continue to see what sticks to the wall, it’s good to know that priorities like government jobs for climate activists, tax credits for ‘environmental justice’ programs at colleges and universities, and $200 million for a park in Speaker Pelosi’s district may soon come up for a vote in the Senate.

“It’s just too bad that Democrats have been so focused on expanding government that they haven’t actually taken time to do some of the essential business of government.

“Mr. President, fiscal year 2021 ended a month ago.

“We’re into fiscal year 2022.

“Yet so far the Senate has not taken up a single appropriations bill for the 2022 fiscal year.

“On the other hand, perhaps it’s not surprising, since the 2022 appropriations bills recently introduced by the committee chair are rabidly partisan productions, packed with poison pills that one can only assume are designed to make the bills fail.

“Taxpayer funding of abortion, a measure that would allow Democrats to use the IRS for partisan purposes, policies that would allow certain criminal illegal aliens to be released into the United States … we may be better off without these bills.

“One bill that there’s no question we should have taken up months ago, however, is the National Defense Authorization Act.

“The NDAA is one of the most important bills we consider each year.

“It authorizes funding for national defense priorities, like critical upgrades to our defense capabilities, as well as funding for our military men and women, from pay increases to protective equipment to investments in Impact Aid.

“It’s not a bill we can afford to ignore.

“But under Senate Democrats, the bill has taken a back seat to Democrats’ pet priority – their massive, partisan tax-and-spending legislation.

“So while Democrats focus on expanding the size of government, critical military priorities are going unauthorized and unfunded.

“Without the NDAA – and then the defense appropriations bill – the military can’t sign off on contracts for critical new equipment.

“Shipbuilding projects, military infrastructure projects, development of new combat systems … they’re all having to wait while Democrats negotiate over their socialist spending spree.

“In my state of South Dakota, Ellsworth Air Force Base is currently preparing to be the first home of the B-21 bomber, where we’ll host both the Formal Training Unit and first operational squadron.

“The B-21 bomber will eventually replace the Air Force’s aging B-1 fleet and ensure that we have a long-range strike asset and leg of the nuclear triad capable of meeting the threats of the 21st century – wherever in the world they are found.

“This year’s NDAA authorizes critical funding for developing the B-21 and starting to transform Ellsworth to prepare for the mission, plus a requirement to maintain the remaining B-1 fleet until the bombers can be replaced by the B-21.

“This is just one of the many critical national security investments that we can’t afford to delay.

“But I guess our military men and women will just have to understand that Democrats’ socialist spending spree takes priority.

“Mr. President, it’s not just our military men and women or appropriations bills that have had to take a back seat to Democrats’ burning desire to expand the size of government and its reach into Americans’ lives.

“With their single-minded focus on their tax-and-spending spree – and, of course, on federalizing election law to give themselves a permanent advantage in future elections – real crises facing our nation seem to barely register on Democrats’ radar.

“We’re in the midst of a serious, increasingly long-term inflation problem – a problem Democrats helped trigger by dumping a lot of unnecessary government money into the economy earlier this year – yet Democrats are not only ignoring this crisis, they’re preparing to make things worse by dumping even more government money into our economy.

“Then there’s the crisis at our southern border.

“Mr. President, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered 192,001 individuals attempting to cross our southern border in September – a 233 percent increase from the previous September.

“233 percent.

“Customs and Border Protection apprehended more than 1.7 million individuals attempting to cross our southern border in fiscal year 2021 – the highest number ever.

“We have a security, enforcement, and humanitarian crisis at our southern border.

“And there’s no sign that things are getting any better.

“Yet you could be forgiven for wondering if Democrats have even noticed.

“I’m pretty sure the president and his administration spent more time earlier this year fighting against the use of the word crisis to describe the situation at the border than they did actually thinking about how they might deal with the influx.

“The president’s main response to the situation seems to be ignoring it in hopes it will go away.

“He’s happy to travel all over the place – whether to a campaign rally in Virginia or a climate change summit overseas.

“But he can’t seem to find a minute to visit the border.

“And the border crisis is not the only crisis the president is ignoring.

“The president’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal was a real low point for this country.

“Thirteen of our military men and women died in a terrorist attack.

“We abandoned thousands of individuals who had worked with us in Afghanistan and whom we had promised to protect.

“Not to mention hundreds of Americans still working to find a way home.

“And the president who was supposed to restore our standing on the world stage left our allies wondering if our word could be relied on.

“Most of all, the disastrous withdrawal has left our country in a much more precarious national security position.

“Afghanistan is ripe to once again become a terrorist haven.

“Just this week, a Pentagon official testified that ISIS-K – ISIS’ Afghanistan affiliate – could be ready to launch terrorist attacks on our homeland in as little as six months.

“Six months.

“And al-Qaeda, which looks set to once again find a safe haven in Afghanistan, could be ready to launch attacks in a year.

“Yet once again, this barely seems to register on the Biden administration’s radar.

“We still have no agreements with neighboring countries to establish or make use of bases to launch counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

“The administration is apparently working on the situation.

“Well, quite frankly, this is something the administration should have figured out before withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan and destroying our ability to conduct counterterrorism operations within the country.

“Unfortunately, the president was more focused on meeting his predetermined, arbitrary deadline than on dealing with the actual situation on the ground – with predictably catastrophic consequences.

“Mr. President, a lot of priorities have had to take a back seat to Democrats’ tax-and-spending spree.

“I only wish the bill were worth it.

“Unfortunately, Democrats’ massive spending bill is likely to worsen our inflation crisis, weaken our economy, and increase government intrusion into Americans’ lives.

“Meanwhile, I guess our border crisis and national security priorities will have to continue to wait until Democrats find the time to address them.

“I’m not holding my breath.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”