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 BidenUS threatens sweeping export controls against Russian industries Headaches intensify for Democrats in Florida US orders families of embassy staff in Ukraine to leave country 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 SullivanSenate confirms Rahm Emanuel to be ambassador to Japan GOP resistance to Biden FCC nominee could endanger board's Democratic majority Man charged with threatening Alaska senators pleads not guilty MORE (R-Alaska), said Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans 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 ReedDefense bill sets up next fight over military justice  Ukraine president, US lawmakers huddle amid tensions with Russia Photos of the Week: Tornado aftermath, Medal of Honor and soaring superheroes 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 ThuneSmall ranchers say Biden letting them get squeezed These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Watch: GOP leaders discuss Biden's first year in office 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 CramerWicker: Biden comments on Ukraine caused 'distress' for both parties Biden huddles with group of senators on Ukraine-Russia tensions Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation 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.”