Inconceivable! Gates blasts Senate Republican's filibuster attempt on defense bill
Published: December 18, 2009
In the middle of the night literally while Washington was sleeping Senate Republicans early Friday revealed that they hate the troops.
Ok, not really. Republicans attempted to filibuster the defense spending bill, but only because they want to block the Democrats from having a healthcare vote before Christmas. So they obviously hate Santa Claus. Ok, not really.
Republicans have tried to filibuster the healthcare vote but they cant overcome the 60 seat supermajority enjoyed by the Democrats. Last weekend they tried to filibuster the entire government spending package but Sen. Joe Lieberman, on observant Jew, walked to the Senate on the Saturday Sabbath to cast the 60th vote.
So, on Friday, Republicans tried the next best thing, aim for Pentagon pork.
The defense bill, like usual, is a massive piece of bacon with tons of pork: 1,700 items and counting, costing $4.2 billion, which is an improvement from last year according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
Republicans felt that, and other controversial funding items, maybe could get them a Democrat or two to grab the brake handle.
No such luck. What they received instead was a letter from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky.
According to the Washington Post, Gates said a delay in passing the defense bill would create a "serious disruption" in the military's ability to pay troops.
"It is inconceivable to me that such a situation would be permitted to occur with U.S. forces actively deployed in combat," Gates wrote, the post reported.
In years past, when Democrats in Congress tried similar parliamentary tricks, legitimate or not, they were often met with guffaws of "Democrats hate the troops!"
Apparently, Dick Durban, the senator from Illinois who is now majority leader, doesnt forget. If Democrats did that, there would be cries of treason, he said on Thursday, the Washington Post reported.
The Washington Times got an even better quote:
"Rarely have I seen such brazen irresponsibility," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who said Republicans are endangering U.S. troops and "want to turn their backs on Americans suffering and dying" over a lack of health care.
No word yet on what the commander-in-chief thinks of it all. This is the first defense bill Obama will sign. Remember, hes the candidate-president who said he would rein in the Pentagons bloated overspending, in part, by cutting pork and curbing lobbyist influence.
But from the looks of the bill, its beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
UPDATE: The Pentagon released this joint statement by Gates and Secretary of States Hillary Clinton on Friday afternoon:
"We strongly urge Senate passage of the Defense Appropriations Bill today, prior to expiration of the current continuing resolution. Passage today will provide important support for our foreign policy and national security priorities and ensure continuity of funding for our troops in combat and for all of the Department of Defense."
UPDATE: The $636 billion bill passed on Saturday morning - take that, snowstorm!