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Senator Lankford Slams Senate Democrats for Filibustering Defense Bill, Jeopardizing National Security

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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a speech on the floor of the Senate about the Democrats’ filibuster of the Defense Appropriations bill, a piece of legislation that passed unanimously out of Committee. Lankford made the case that growing worldwide threats and national security needs make passage of the Defense Appropriations extremely important.

On May 26, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the FY2017 Defense Appropriations bill with a vote of 30-0. Last Thursday’s 55-42 vote marks the fifth consecutive time that Senate Democrats have blocked consideration of the defense appropriations measure. The FY2017 bill was first blocked by Democrats on July 7. This bill requires 60 votes for Senate passage.

Lankford serves on the Appropriations Committee that passed the bill in May. Lankford is also the only Senator to serve on both the Homeland Security and Intelligence Committee.


Americans believe that President Obama’s flawed Iran deal has made the United States less safe. This is a major issue for all Americans. People want to know that they’re kept safe. That their government is actually engaged. It is the primary responsibility of the federal government to deal with national defense, regardless of party. People want to live in safe neighborhoods. Regardless of party, they want their families to grow up in a world that is as safe as it can possibly be.

One of those areas where it leads to greater instability is when this Congress stumbles in its support for our military. Six times in 18 months that our democratic colleagues have filibustered the Defense Appropriations bill, which should be the easiest of all the appropriation bills to be able to walk through. I serve on the Appropriations Committee. I was there when all the debate was happening in committee. We passed it unanimously out of committee. Yet when this comes to this floor, it gets filibustered.

You see, the basic rules of the Senate are, as this body knows extremely well, you have to have three-fifths of the body to open debate on a bill. Now, it just passes by a simple majority, but we have to have 60 people of the 100 here agree to start it. And as long as the other side decides, no, I don’t want to debate this issue, then we’re literally stuck and can’t even open up debate on something as basic and should be as nonpartisan as defense appropriations.

So what are we facing right now when all this is happening? Well, we face a very unstable world that has become more unstable, as I mentioned before, by some of the attitudes and actions of the administration. The president’s fail tour to enforce his own red line in Syria has led to instability in the Middle East, as no one knows where the lines are for anyone. In making a statement like they won’t use chemical weapons when every year since 2013 the Syrian government has used chlorine gas on its own people, and our administration has responded with, well, that’s not crossing the red line because chlorine was exempted from this deal.

The president of the United States sent $1.7 billion in cash to the Iranian government. So it is the ultimate irony, the ultimate irony that at the time the president and our democratic colleagues don’t want to fund the United States military, they sent three planeloads full of cash to the Iranian military so they could operate theirs.

This is why we stand here as freshmen and say, this may be normal senate process, but it makes no sense to the American people. How plane-fuls of cash can be sent to the Iranian military and they’re not spending here. As the president looks out his front window, let me just give you some perspective. As the president looks out his front window of the White House, he sees the Washington Monument directly in front of him. $1.7 billion in $1 would be the equivalent of 1,097 Washington Monuments stacked up. 1,097 Washington Monuments stocked up is $1.7 billion. That’s what we just shipped to Iran. Why do we think this is important? Because we believe national security is important. And protecting America is important.