GOP senators accuse Democrats of prioritizing social spending over military

GOP senators accuse Democrats of prioritizing social spending over military
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blasted Democratic leadership for their decision not to push ahead the annual defense authorization bill and bring it to the floor for a vote, calling the move a “dereliction of duty.”

The GOP lawmakers accused Democrats of focusing too much on President BidenJoe BidenGOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist MORE’s domestic agenda instead of helping the military with the nearly $780 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

“When asked the question, ‘Why are we not getting floor time?’ There’s not an answer,” Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), said during a GOP press conference.

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Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanMan charged with threatening Alaska senators pleads not guilty China conducts combat readiness drill after US congressional delegation arrives in Taiwan Overnight Defense & National Security — A new plan to treat Marines 'like human beings' MORE (R-Alaska), said Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports MORE (D-N.Y.), who controls the agenda, “won’t bring up the NDAA” to the floor, alleging that “the military in this White House and this Congress is simply not prioritized.”

The must-pass NDAA, which would fund the Defense Department and some programs in the Energy Department for 2022, is typically considered and passed on a bipartisan basis.

This year’s bill includes language allowing for an annual military pay raise, funding for programs and equipment to deter Russia and China and major changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice dealing with sexual assault and harassment.

The House passed its version of the NDAA in September, but a version the Senate Armed Services Committee passed in July has been awaiting a full chamber vote since then.

Once both versions are passed, House and Senate lawmakers would go to conference to settle differences ahead of a final vote in both chambers, but the process can’t move forward with the Senate’s delay.

Schumer has not announced his plans for the bill.

The senators at the press conference said they had not been told why Schumer has not brought the legislation to a vote. 

Inhofe said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack ReedJack ReedBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Senate punts on defense bill Warren calls for Senate probe of 2019 Syrian airstrike that killed dozens of civilians MORE (D-R.I.), has pressed Schumer about getting a vote “on a daily basis” but “did not come back with a reason that this postponement has taken place.”

The Hill has reached out to Schumer's office for comment. 

The GOP senators pointed to the delay as proof that the military is low on the list of priorities for Democratic leaders.

The Senate has been preoccupied with two major bills the White House hopes will be passed, including a $1.75 trillion "human infrastructure" package and a more traditional roads and bridges bill that has bipartisan support. 

Democrats hope to finalize the bills in the next several weeks.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneParnell exit threatens to hurt Trump's political clout Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama McConnell, Schumer hunt for debt ceiling off-ramp MORE (R-N.D.), said Democrats “have been so preoccupied with passing their reckless tax-and-spending spree that they have overlooked and ignored some of the basic responsibilities of governing.”

Time is also running out in 2021, with only four weeks left of legislative work on the congressional calendar.

“The bottom line is we’re running out of time,” said Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerAdvocates see pilot program to address inequalities from highways as crucial first step The Memo: Rising costs a growing threat for Biden GOP senator: Decisions on bills not made based on if they hurt or help Trump or Biden MORE (R-N.D.), “And I just don’t mean we’re coming up on Thanksgiving and we haven’t done the NDAA. I mean we’re also running out of time to continue to be the superpower of the world.”