SENATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 196
(Senate - December 09, 2019)

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[Pages S6897-S6898]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                       SENATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, as the end of the year approaches and 
the House Democratic majority continues to pour its time and attention 
into impeaching the President, a number of key legislative items remain 
outstanding.
  For weeks, my Republican colleagues have been pleading with our 
Democratic friends in Congress to put aside their impeachment obsession 
long enough to complete some basic work for the American people.
  We have explained that American families cannot afford for Washington 
Democrats to obsess over impeachment and obstruct the things we 
absolutely have to do.
  So I am pleased that the last several days have brought at least some 
initial conversations that sanity and progress may be breaking through. 
We are still a long way from the finish line, but this week begins on a 
cautiously optimistic note. It appears that Democrats' willingness to 
block these basic governing items may be finally giving way.
  The National Defense Authorization Act is our annual must-pass 
vehicle laying out Congress's plan for addressing military funding and 
meeting the needs of our servicemembers. It is a responsibility that 
this body has discharged in a bipartisan manner every year, without 
fail, for 58 years.
  That is why it was so disheartening that Democratic leadership in 
both the

[[Page S6898]]

House and the Senate broke with tradition and used this year's NDAA 
process to insist on all manner of partisan items, including nongermane 
domestic policy changes. This partisan approach left the future of the 
Pentagon's most urgent missions in the lurch.
  So I am encouraged that bicameral negotiations, with participation 
from the White House, reached a conclusion last week. Most of the 
partisan demands predictably fell away. The result is not either side's 
ideal bill, but it is one that should be able to pass both Chambers 
under the circumstances. I hope the bipartisan conference report will 
be signed and moved quickly through each Chamber so Congress can 
finally fulfill our responsibility to America's Armed Forces for 
another year.
  Then there is the appropriations process--another fundamental 
responsibility which, for the good of the Nation, is historically 
approached with a bipartisan willingness to find common ground.
  It seemed like that might again be the case when a bicameral, 
bipartisan deal was struck by the President and the Speaker of the 
House back in July, but then, when negotiations resumed in earnest back 
in September, some of our Democratic colleagues realized they weren't 
really ready to part with partisan poison pills. They ignored their own 
agreement and months of stalemate ensued.
  Fortunately, our appropriators are working hard to salvage the 
process. Last month, Chairman Shelby and Chairwoman Lowey and our other 
colleagues reached a deal on subcommittee allocations. I understand 
their hard work continued in earnest over this past weekend, with the 
goal of producing bills that both Chambers could consider before the 
end of this year.
  I am grateful to colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard 
work. I hope this progress continues, and we can consider 
appropriations measures this month.
  Now, there is still one more major piece of bipartisan legislation 
awaiting action by House Democrats. For months, Speaker Pelosi and 
House Democrats have been slow-walking President Trump's landmark trade 
agreement with Mexico and Canada. Month after month, House Democrats 
kept 176,000 new American jobs in limbo, but, finally, after weeks of a 
full-court press from Republicans in the House and the Senate, we are 
seeing hopeful signals that Speaker Pelosi's months-long stalling 
campaign may at long last be coming to an end. Reports suggest the 
Speaker may finally allow the House to vote in the near future. For our 
country's sake, I certainly hope so.
  So what has been true for months is especially true now that time is 
short--it is going to take bipartisan collaboration and hard work for 
any of these outstanding legislative priorities to become law.
  Even if House Democrats do finally relent and allow these key 
priorities to move forward, it is now the eleventh hour, and it will 
require consent and cooperation for the Senate to consider legislation 
in a timely fashion.
  I ask for that collaborative spirit from my colleagues on both sides 
in the Senate as we move forward. We Republicans have been ready and 
eager for weeks to legislate on these key priorities. I hope these 
reports are accurate that leading Democrats may finally--finally--be 
willing to let Congress govern, and I hope we can move forward at a 
brisk pace and in a bipartisan way.

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