U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) today joined other Senators in sending a letter to the Democratic leadership asking them to complete work on the appropriations bills that fund our troops and care for our veterans so Congress can approve them and send them to the president to sign into law.
“Our military men and women are fighting abroad so that we can be safe, and we owe it to them – and to those veterans who have fought in wars before them – to provide the support they need and deserve,” said Senator Alexander, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “We’ve now set a twenty-year record for failing to fund our troops and veterans in a timely manner. Congress should do its job, quit playing politics and come to an agreement by Veterans Day to support our troops and veterans.”
“We spend a lot of time on messaging votes that do absolutely nothing, and yet we seem to be incapable of performing our actual constitutional responsibilities – passing appropriations bills to support our military men and women and care for our country’s veterans,” said Senator Corker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I truly believe the American people expect us to do the jobs we were sent here to do.”
The letter asks that Congress complete work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) and Defense appropriations bills and send them to the President’s desk by Veterans Day. To date, Congress has not sent a single appropriations bill – the responsibility of Congress as outlined in the Constitution – to the president to sign into law.
Full text of the letter is below.
October 31, 2007
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Majority Leader Harry Reid
House of Representatives United States Senate
H-232 U.S. Capitol S-221 U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid:
We write this letter to request that federal funding for our nation’s troops and veterans not be further delayed and held hostage for partisan purposes. Congress must promptly complete its work on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Military Construction-Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) and Defense appropriations bills, and they should be sent to the President’s desk as freestanding measures by Veterans Day.
It has been nearly two months since both Houses passed their respective FY 2008 MilCon-VA appropriations bills, and nearly one month has gone by since both chambers approved their FY 2008 Defense appropriations bills. Plenty of time has passed for these measures to go through conference and get signed into law. Yet to date, this Congress has still not sent a single appropriations bill to the President – a failure of accomplishment that has not happened in decades. Meanwhile, our brave soldiers are defending us overseas, taking the fight to the terrorists, and keeping our nation safe. Veterans continue waiting for increased funding, which the President already has signaled that he would approve and will lead to improved medical care and other benefits.
Swift action on the MilCon-VA and Defense appropriations bills is not only fitting with Veterans Day coming in less than two weeks, but it also is one of our highest responsibilities as lawmakers. Our soldiers and veterans already have done so much for our county. The Democratic Congressional Leadership should not now cynically use them to shoulder a bloated “minibus” funding bill up Pennsylvania Avenue and wrest billions in excessive spending. Leading veterans groups have expressed strong concerns about such an approach. For months, the President has said that he would oppose it.
Our troops and veterans cannot afford unnecessary delay, and they rightfully expect Congress to put their interests ahead of politics. It therefore is irresponsible to attach VA and military funding measures onto a domestic spending bill which we know will get vetoed. Instead, we urge you to work with us in a bipartisan manner so we can quickly advance freestanding MilCon-VA and Defense appropriations bills for the President’s signature.