GOP senator: Dem block on defense bill risks national security

Sen. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick The Hill's Coronavirus Report: San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus Artistic Director Tim Seelig says choirs are dangerous; Pence says, 'We have saved lives' 7 GOP senators slam State Dept for 'slow and inefficient policy' on passports MORE (R-Ark.) is criticizing Democrats for blocking a nearly $576 billion defense spending bill, saying the move will embolden U.S. adversaries.

“This strategy to avoid Senate debate of the Defense Appropriations bill risks serious damage to our national and global security,” he said in the weekly GOP address.

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats blocked the Defense Department funding bill from coming to the floor for debate. Democrats and the White House object to the bill's roughly $38 billion increase to the Pentagon’s war fund, which allows the military to skirt existing budget caps.

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Democrats have vowed to hold up the Pentagon bill and all other spending measures unless Republicans sit down for talks to ease all of the spending limits set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. 

Democrats want to erase the caps for both defense and nondefense spending.

Boozman, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said holding up the bill “reduces readiness by depriving service members of the supplies they need to effectively carry out their missions.”

It also deprives the Pentagon of “budget certainty and ability to plan that comes when Congress passes this legislation in a timely manner.”

“We must remember that our enemies around the world view this political gridlock as a sign of weakness,” he said.

“This perception invites our enemies to create chaos and engage in aggressive, destabilizing behavior,” Boozman added, citing Russian actions in eastern Ukraine.

The Arkansas senator said the “protection of our troops and the safety and security of our nation is not a game, but Democrats are willing to play politics with our military to get more money for the agencies that have abused their power like the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS.”

He added that were would be “plenty of time to debate our domestic spending priorities. Now is not that time.”

Service members “are the reason we live in the greatest, freest nation the world has ever known. They are beacons of light for people around the world looking for hope from oppressive and abusive regimes,” according to Boozman.

“Congress must pass the Defense Appropriations bill to ensure our service members have every tool that they need to carry out their mission and return home to their families safely,” he said.