December 10, 2020
“We still have work to do on behalf of the American people, and I hope the Democrats will join us.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke on the Senate floor about the need to pass the 60th National Defense Authorization Act for the safety of our nation.
He also discussed the importance of passing another coronavirus relief bill to help American families and small businesses that are struggling.
Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I come to the floor today in complete support of Senator Inhofe, the Chairman of the Senate Armed service Committee.
“I come in support of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“I come to speak to that, and I am so grateful for the Senator from Oklahoma for his ongoing determined leadership in making sure that our nation remains safe and secure and free.
“It’s because of the work done by Senator Inhofe and his committee and this body and this legislation that we will be voting on, that I have been so grateful for the leadership of the chairman, and want to talk specifically about the reason I think it’s important that we do pass the legislation that the committee has worked so hard on.
“This critical national security legislation lays out America’s defense and national security priorities, and the Senator from Oklahoma just laid out, for the years to come.
“It sets the policies to defend our nation, and it supports America’s service men and women here at home as well as those abroad.
“I was honored to spend Thanksgiving again this year with Wyoming National Guard troops, members of our Air National Guard, they’re serving at this time in Qatar, Al-Udeid Airforce Base in the Persian Gulf.
“When I think of the National Defense Authorization Act, this legislation before us today, I think of them.
“I think about the members there, ‘Charlie Med’, doing medical evacuations, medical transport.
“First I will tell you, in terms of these Wyoming soldiers who are there, if you are in need of medical care or medical transport, you would be in very capable hands.
“We also know they have what they need to be able to do the job.
“I think of them. I think of their families. The sacrifices that are being made by the families at home because the families play a significant and important role in this as well.
“It’s interesting, with so many deployed overseas right now some of them have found that their deployments have been extended because of coronavirus they are unable to do the transports of moving people back to the United States for the holidays and then back into the fields.
“Many of whom felt they would be home for the holidays are going to find that they are not able to be home for the holidays.
“I think it’s very important that the Senate send a strong message that we have their backs just as they have ours
“This is an incredibly bipartisan piece of legislation, one of the most bipartisan pieces of legislation every year when it comes to the floor of the Senate.
“It reflects equal input from Republicans, from Democrats, the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted 229 bipartisan amendments before it approved the NDAA this summer by a vote in the committee of 25-2.
“It’s also in line with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. It supports $741 billion in defense funding for the 2021 fiscal year.
“The NDAA is really a proud tradition of this institution and of our nation.
“This is the 60th year in a row that the Senate has taken up the NDAA, and it has passed this body every year.
“We need to make sure this year is no exception.
“The world may be distracted by other things that are going on, certainly the issue of a coronavirus pandemic, but make no mistake: China, Russia, they still have global ambitions, and they pose grave threats to our nation’s security.
“The Chinese military has actually stepped up its aggression against its neighbors, and we see it in the South China Sea.
“Russia is using energy as a weapon against its neighbors, and it continues cyberattacks against governments and institutions around the globe.
“This legislation will help keep China and Russia in check.
“It maintains our high-tech edge.
“It modernizes our nuclear weapon systems with funding for a Ground Based Strategic Deterrent.
“It invests in new technologies – hypersonic weapons, biotechnologies, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity – all of which are designed to help keep us safe and free.
“It implements the National Defense Strategy to promote a strong military deterrent and to strive for lasting peace.
“And it delivers a well-deserved pay raise for our troops, along with high-quality housing, health care, childcare for military families at home as well as abroad.
“I do want to thank Senator Inhofe and the Ranking Member, Senator Reed of Rhode Island, for their work in bringing this bill to the floor.
“Democrats have a history of opposing sometimes stronger defense funding, especially during the Obama-Biden years, but this makes longer-term funding uncertain, and it becomes even important to do what we need to do now to stand up against our adversaries.
“We can’t afford to slow our nation’s critical defense investments now.
“This NDAA will protect American leadership and values all around the world, and it will give our nation what we need to confront the aggressors that I mentioned, like China and Russia.
“This legislation is strategic, and this legislation is strong. It’s smart, and it supports our troops and it stands up to our enemies.
“The Senate needs to pass this the 60th National Defense Authorization Act.
“I’d now like to take a moment to discuss another topic, and that’s coronavirus relief for American families.
“Increasingly, we’re seeing communities across the country asking for a clear path forward.
“A path forward to put the virus behind us and to help us grow our economy.
“I think the takeaway from last Friday’s job report is that we really have no time to waste.
“For the first time since we passed the CARES Act, the jobs report showed signs of a slowing recovery. Recovery yes, but not as rapid as prior.
“The sectors hardest hit at the beginning of the pandemic are now hard-hit again, retail and food services.
“The Republican-led CARES Act secured the swiftest, strongest economic recovery in our nation’s history.
“It added more than 12.3 million jobs in the last seven months. It has been a great American comeback.
“At the end of this month, provisions of the CARES Act are expiring. Things like sick leave, unemployment benefits, tax provisions. We need to extend those.
“For small businesses, I believe we need to re-establish and refurbish the popular Paycheck Protection Program.
“I talked to small businesses in Wyoming, talked to County Commissioners last night, talked to our Wyoming Stock Growers yesterday, we need to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program.
“We need to reallocate unused funds for immediate needs now.
“Republican priorities are American priorities in terms of relief from coronavirus.
“We want to make sure, certainly, to fund the distribution of the vaccine, which is ready to go.
“We need to provide relief for individuals and small businesses.
“And we need to get kids back into the classroom safely so that they don’t fall further behind.
“The job we need to do is significant, and it is serious and relief is necessary.
“We need to get a bridge to the point where people have either received the vaccine or there is immunity in communities.
“Republicans are offering a path forward. We’re doing it legislatively.
“What we’ve heard from Democrats are hard lines, all-or-nothing demands. We’ve heard them for the last seven months.
“Democrats have offered no new proposals for COVID relief.
“They passed their $3 trillion fantasy-island bill in May and never lifted a pen after that.
“In the last six months, Democrats have blocked relief that we have offered on the Senate floor four different times.
“Last week, Speaker Pelosi said, admitted, that she had held up all those six months of coronavirus relief for the American public for political gain, for politics.
“We heard it from the minority assistant leader just yesterday, admitting the same. Punishing the American people for politics.
“It’s a sad commentary on where that party has been as the American people are asking for relief.
“Democrats don’t have a plan. They played politics with the pandemic.
“Again, our path forward is to do the things that we know need to be done: distribute the vaccine, provide Americans with relief and get Americans’ lives back on track.
“What we hear from Democrats is more lockdowns, more taxes during a pandemic, more special projects for the far-left. It’s sad.
“The Democrats’ policies don’t meet the moment.
“We need to get relief to the public now.
“Democrats are ignoring where we really are in terms of the costs the Americans have borne, and the progress we’ve made in a recovery. And they’ve done it for political purposes.
“Scientists and researchers are within several days of approval of the vaccine and a distribution nationwide.
“The country is soon going to have several highly effective vaccines distributed to every state.
“In Wyoming, we are looking forward to 5,000 vaccines as early as Monday, 15,000 by the end of the month.
“I talked to the head of the Intensive Care Unit at the Wyoming Medical Center just the other day, the hospital where I had been chief of staff, where there are increasing number of patients in the Intensive Care Unit on respirators, where the staff is exhausted.
“And they say we need the vaccine for the staff, for the frontline workers, for the health care workers, for the elderly, and the nursing home patients so they don’t end up in the hospital and on the ventilators.
“These are the healthcare heroes of the day, the doctors and nurses, taking care of these sick patients.
“We’re going to administer vaccines to them, to the nursing home patients, to those at high risk.
“Over the next three months, over 100 million people will be vaccinated.
“Relief is necessary. In Wyoming, we’ve lost 299 citizens to coronavirus, a number that I would have thought would not have occurred.
“This is with people trying to socially distance, and people trying to do the kinds of things in terms of wearing masks, the behavior that we know with hygiene would minimize the spread, but still the disease continues to spread.
“The vaccine is the solution, but between now and the time that the people can get vaccinated, help is needed, and it is up to this body to act.
“We still have work to do on behalf of the American people, and I hope that the Democrats will join us in this effort this holiday season to get that relief to folks who need it.
“In the meantime, I say let’s continue to do the things that we know work, so we can stay safe and our businesses and our country can stay open.”