Thune, Barrasso, Capito, Nelson, Hirono, Manchin, Markey

National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735)

Senator Thune: (10:19 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "Incredibly, however, the president has threatened to veto this important legislation. His reason - the president doesn't want our military to receive the increased levels of funding prescribed in this bill unless, unless the president's nondefense funding priorities receive an increased level of funding. Apparently, President Obama is willing to hold up funding for our nation's military until Congress provides more funding for agencies like the I.R.S. and the E.P.A. while the president can certainly make his case to Congress when it comes to funding government agencies, holding troop funding hostage for political purposes is reckless and irresponsible, and if that weren't enough, the White House is busy lobbying Senate Democrats to abandon bipartisan efforts that went into this bill and back up a presidential veto. The National Defense Authorization Act plays a key role in keeping our nation safe. The president's attempt to hijack this bill for his political purposes is wrong, and I very much hope that he will consider the implications of what he's doing and rethink that threat."
  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "Now, before ObamaCare, $1,600 would have been enough to pay for the entire annual premium for some individual insurance plans. While the ObamaCare exchanges unravel, health insurance costs on the exchanges are soaring. Insurers have requested double-digit premium increases on 676 individual and small group plans for 2016. More than six million people are enrolled in plans facing average rate increases of 10% or more. Around the country, rate increases of 20%, 30%, 40% and even 50% are common. One health care plan in Arizona is seeking a rate increase of 78.9%. So much for the president's promise that his health care plan would, "bring down the cost of health care for millions." In my home state of South Dakota, proposed rate increases range up to 44.4%."
  • Spoke on the Environmental Protection Agency.
    • "We've had this nearly $400 million investment to make the plant cleaner and more efficient in order to satisfy the E.P.A., and now the Obama E.P.A. wants to shut it down. The Obama E.P.A. should not push regulations that result in higher utility costs for consumers, less grid reliability and fewer jobs. Affordable and reliable energy helps grow the economy and helps low- and middle-income families make ends meet. Unfortunately the E.P.A.'s rule will only increase electrical rates and hurt those who can afford it the least by forcing our most affordable energy sources off-line. I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing this burdensome rule and to prevent the serious, serious economic burden that it will impose on middle-income families in this country."

 

Senator Barrasso: (10:35 AM)

  • Spoke on ObamaCare.
    • "According to the study, this works out to $1,375 per newly insured person per year under Obama's health care law. Of course people's premiums are going through the roof. The health care law created to raise 20 different taxes. Maybe President Obama today should explain why one dollar out of every four that Washington spends on health care should go to bureaucracy instead of to caring for patients. The president's health care law is hurting hardworking American families who are going to have to pay premiums of 40% to 50% more next year. It's hurting the hospitals that are supposed to provide the actual health care to those patients. It's wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on overhead and bureaucracy instead of providing care for sick people. ObamaCare is an expensive disaster. Now, that's not just my opinion. A new poll came out the other day from CNN. It found only 11% - only one in nine Americans - say the law is a success."

 

Senator Capito: (10:45 AM)

  • Spoke on the economy.
    • "I introduced the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, the ARENA Act with Leader McConnell, my fellow West Virginian Joe Manchin and many of my colleagues. This would protect families and businesses from electricity rate increases, reduced electrical reliability and other harmful effects of the Clean Power Act. The ARENA Act would require that any greenhouse gas standards set by the E.P.A. for new coal-fired plants are achievable by commercial power plants including highly efficient plants that utilize the most modern state-of-the-art emissions control technologies. Back in February, I asked E.P.A. acting administrator Janet McKay to explain why, despite multiple invitations from federal and state legislators, the E.P.A. did not hold a public hearing on its proposed Clean Power Act in West Virginia, given the large role that coal plays in our economy and our electricity generation."

 

Senator Nelson: (10:50 AM)

  • Spoke on the sequester.  
    • "So it's time for us to get rid of the sequester. We did it before two years ago with a bipartisan budget, the one known as Murray-Ryan. We need to do it again. Otherwise, right now we are wasting our time working on bills that have no chance of becoming law. And we need to fix the budget caps for defense and nondefense spending. Not a Band-Aid when you have got an artery that is gushing blood. Now, if it were not just this, there are other examples. Take, for example, a program that I have some familiarity with, our nation's space program. Here we are, we have been trying for now since 2010, since Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican from Texas, and I passed a NASA authorization bill that put us on the course that will ultimately, as the president has now announced, taken us to Mars. But we can't get the policy updated because we can't pass another NASA authorization bill. So what happens? It goes to the Appropriation Committee."

 

Senator Hirono: (11:00 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "The bill before us takes $38 billion out of the base budget at the Department of Defense and moves it into the O.C.O. budget. The O.C.O. budget is not subject to budget control caps. The reason for this is that O.C.O. funds are intended to support the unknown unknowns that arise. Using the O.C.O. account to fund non-contingency items is irresponsible. It is a one-year fix and adds to our budget deficit. It's not fair to our commanders on the ground who have told us that we need to fix sequester permanently so they can prepare for the long term. Using the O.C.O. account to shield the D.O.D. from sequester has been called a gimmick by many. I am for a strong national defense. However, the foundation of our military strength is the strength of our economy. It's the strength of our communities. It's the strength of our future. Failing to fix sequestration for both defense and non-defense will undermine the strength of our national defense."

 

Senator Manchin: (11:07 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "The bottom line is that we need to get our long-term budget that reduces the deficit in line. And increasing the O.C.O. money that this bill has in it right now only hurts that goal. It makes it much more difficult and elusive. The defense budget needs to be based on this long-term military strategy which requires the Department of Defense to focus at least five years into the future. This is only a one-year plan. You think it's not going to be extended and extended and extended? You think we're just going to start it and stop it in one year? I don't think so. The fiscal responsibility approach we need to take is fixing the B.C.A. caps. We're hearing about the whole thing of sequestration, how horrible it is. Well, let me tell you how you can fix it. Sit down and put a budget that's realistic, that puts our long-term financial plan solid."

 

Senator Markey: (11:17 AM)

  • Spoke on the National Defense Authorization Act.
    • "I am very disappointed that the defense authorization bill we are considering today uses a budget gimmick to end sequestration cuts for defense spending but continue to impose mandatory cuts for critical domestic priorities like education, health care and medical research. This legislation transfers nearly $40 billion in defense spending to a glorified slush fund called the overseas contingency operations account or O.C.O. account as a way to avoid triggering sequestration cuts. Let's be clear. O.C.O., really stands for "Open Checkbook Operation" for our budget. And it stands for outrageous cop-out by the G.O.P. instead of cutting funding for defense, Republicans choose instead to cut programs for the defenseless. This isn't responsible budgeting. It is a cynical game. The majority is attempting to avoid its responsibilities under sequestration."