Senate

Reid, McConnell start defense fight

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have thrown their first punches in the fight over an annual defense spending bill.  

Senators agreed to take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Wednesday, but McConnell warned Democrats against dragging out work on the legislation, saying that “blocking this bill is not in the national interest.” 

{mosads}”It would be profoundly unfair to our troops,” he added from the Senate floor. “So let’s skip the partisan games and start working toward common sense reforms as this bill proposes. Let’s work together to pass the best defense authorization bill possible.” 

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, which sets out broad spending and policy for the Defense Department. Because of the veto threat, Reid told reporters on Tuesday that taking up the NDAA in June “really is kind of a waste of time.” 

McConnell slammed Reid for the remark, saying that Democrats “want to punish the men and women of our military.”
 
“The assumption, I guess, is his party isn’t getting its way on other partisan demands completely unrelated to the bill,” he added.
 
McConnell’s decision to bring the defense bill to the floor in June is a shift from recent years when lawmakers have worked to finish the legislation at the end of the year. 
 
Reid said that by taking up the bill now — which could dominate weeks of the Senate’s floor time — McConnell is risking missing upcoming deadlines for the Export-Import Bank and the Highway Trust Fund. 
 
“The majority leader should bring the banks’ reauthorization to the Senate floor for a vote before the charter expires at the of this month. But it appears that’s not going to happen,” Reid said. “Instead, the American people will have to endure another manufactured crisis at the hand of Senate Republicans. Should we also assume that the majority leader will do the same with the federal highway program, which expires at the end of July?” 
 
The Nevada Democrat added that he’s seen a “very disturbing practice” under Senate Republican leadership. 
 
“Governing by brinksmanship, manufactured crisis, flirting with deadlines, a game of chicken,” he said. “You can call it whatever you want, but they’re doing it.” 
Tags Harry Reid Mitch McConnell
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