SENATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 197
(Senate - December 10, 2019)

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[Pages S6909-S6910]
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                       SENATE LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, as we enter the final weeks of 2019, 
two things seem to be true here in Congress. No. 1, our Democratic 
colleagues, particularly over in the House, seem eager to pour the vast 
majority of their time and energy into their 3-year-long journey to 
impeach the President the American people elected. As a consequence, 
No. 2, Congress has yet to fulfill a number of its core governing 
responsibilities for this year.
  At this late date, several crucial, must-pass bills remain undone. 
For months, my fellow Republicans and I have been stressing the need 
for productive, bipartisan cooperation on these pressing subjects: 
funding for the Federal Government, Defense appropriations--the money 
for our troops--and the National Defense Authorization Act. Yet, for 
months, our calls for the Democrats to join us in serious negotiations 
have gone largely unanswered as the Democratic leadership has opted for 
a different political playbook--to obsess over impeachment and obstruct 
this core business that we must do every year.
  Earlier this year, the House Democrats pushed through what we believe 
was their first purely party-line NDAA that either Chamber has ever 
passed in the 58-year history of the legislation. This is the 
legislation that puts forward Congress's priorities for equipping, 
training, and maintaining the greatest fighting forces in the world. It 
has never been used before as a purely partisan weapon--that is, not 
until this year. Reassuringly, the past few days have finally brought 
an end to bipartisan talks and produced a compromise NDAA. The end 
result should be able to pass both Chambers and earn the President's 
signature. Believe me, it will not come a moment too soon.
  The NDAA authorizes resources to keep crucial military 
installations--like Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, and the Blue Grass Army 
Depot in Kentucky--running smoothly. It is similarly important to 
facilities in many of our colleagues' home States as well. Nationally, 
of course, it directs readiness efforts, prioritizes research and 
development programs, and enacts vital reforms at the Pentagon.
  I look forward to sending the final, bipartisan product by the 
conference committee to the President for his signature soon. In 
addition to that authorizing legislation, Congress, of course, needs to 
actually appropriate funds for our national defense and for all other 
functions of our Federal Government.
  Just a few months ago, when leaders on both sides put their names to 
a bipartisan-bicameral roadmap for the appropriations process, it 
looked as though we might keep partisan disputes out of this process 
and finish up the appropriations with time to spare. Unfortunately, our 
Democratic colleagues decided that picking fights with the White House 
was a higher priority, and we spent the autumn being mired in disputes 
over exactly the kinds of poison pills and Presidential authorities the 
Speaker and the Democratic leader had previously promised

[[Page S6910]]

would be off limits. Yet, as we speak, Chairman Shelby and 
appropriators in both Chambers are trying to bring months of near 
stalemate to a close. Last month, a bipartisan-bicameral agreement was 
reached on subcommittee allocations, and talks continue this week on 
outstanding issues.
  Thanks to the months of delay, we have a long way to go and a very 
short time in which to do it. I hope that our Democratic colleagues can 
finally stick to the terms of the budget agreement and keep partisan 
policy fights out of this process. That is the only way both Chambers 
will have a chance of being able to vote on funding bills before the 
end of this year.
  That brings us to the USMCA. For the better part of the past year, 
President Trump's landmark agreement to update North American trade 
policy has been languishing as Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats 
have indulged further and further in impeachment. There are 176,000 new 
Americans jobs that have sat waiting on ice as the Speaker has offered 
lukewarm assurances month after month that her caucus is hoping to be 
``on a path to yes.'' This week, at long last, it appears that the 
House Democrats may finally be willing to take action for American 
workers and job creators and let the House vote on the President's 
deal. I was pleased to hear that U.S. negotiators, led by Robert 
Lighthizer, were to head to Mexico today to finalize the details on 
this important win for the American economy. I hope this forward 
momentum continues.
  So that is the state of play. There is a lot left to do for the 
American families we represent if our Democratic colleagues will simply 
allow it, and it will certainly take a great deal of cooperation and 
consent right here in the Senate if we intend to consider and pass 
these measures before the end of the year.
  Obstruction and stalemate have brought us to the eleventh hour. I 
hope that, now that we are here, both Chambers will be able to set 
aside the Democrats' impeachment parade long enough to get the people's 
business finally finished.