Senate Democrats vow to block Defense spending bill

Francis Rivera

Senate Democratic leaders say they will block the defense appropriations bill from coming to the floor this month unless there is a deal to lift ceilings on government spending known as the sequester.

“Our military doesn’t deserve budget gimmicks. They deserve real support,” Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Wednesday.

{mosads}Democrats have been complaining about the GOP’s decision to keep sequester spending limits, while increasing a Pentagon war fund as a way to give more money to the military. The White House has said President Obama will veto a separate Defense authorization bill over the issue.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough met with Senate Democrats on Tuesday to urge them to block the defense authorization bill from coming to a final vote.

Many Democrats, however, are leery about derailing that bill because they fear being labeled anti-military by Republican critics.

Instead, they’re planning to take their stand on the defense appropriations measure, which McConnell is expected to bring to the floor later this month.

“Republicans should be absolutely crystal clear about one thing: Democrats will not vote to put a defense appropriations bill on the floor that uses accounting trickery and budget gimmicks to fund our troops,” Schumer added.

He said that Senate Democrats will block motions to proceed to any appropriations bill “until Republicans have sat down at the table and figured out with us how we’re going to properly fund the Defense Department and key priorities that help families, fuel economic growth and keep us safe and strong at home.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said the caucus would recommend to its members that they vote against proceeding to the defense appropriations bill.

“We need to have the highest level of negotiation between the White House and the leaders in Congress to work out an agreement that finally puts an end to sequestration,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for threatening to block the defense spending bill.

“Underscoring their devotion to D.C. dysfunction, Democrats are now threatening to deny funding for the brave men and women who protect us, their families, and veterans in a childish gambit to wrest billions more for wasteful bureaucracies like the IRS,” he said in a statement.

“Though their behavior is completely discordant with the real challenges facing our country, we nonetheless intend to work our way through this,” he added.

– Updated at 10:23 p.m.

Tags Budget Chuck Schumer Dick Durbin Pentagon

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