Shelby Floor Speech on the Continuing Resolution

WASHINGTON, DC, Thursday, September 18, 2014 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today delivered the following speech on the Senate floor in support of the Continuing Resolution.  

The full text of Shelby’s remarks, as prepared, is below:  

Thank you, M. President.

I rise in support of the Continuing Resolution.

Overall, it is a relatively clean bill that carries forward current levels for discretionary spending and avoids another government shutdown.

It contains a minimal amount of what we call “anomalies” or deviations from a straight continuation of previous-year funding.

The anomalies it does contain are limited in duration and subject to relitigation when we return after the break.

The bill is also consistent with the total level of discretionary spending enacted in the Bipartisan Budget Act for Fiscal Year 2014.

Most significantly, this legislation will authorize assistance for elements of the Syrian opposition to help confront the threat presented by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL.

While I believe action against this menace is long overdue, it is unfortunate that the action, once again, requires the involvement of our military and our resources.

This authority for training and equipping appropriate moderate elements in Syria is no panacea, however.

We should not expect quick and easy progress in turning the tide against this new terrorist threat that has developed in the region while this Administration withdrew and hoped for the best.

History and our experience in the region tell us that this will not be the last time Congress will struggle with this issue.  Even if we can identify, train and equip a large number of fighters in a relatively short period of time, there will come a time when more will be required to defeat this enemy.

It is unfortunate that the President has chosen to ignore this fact, thereby avoiding an honest discussion with the American people.

Nevertheless, I believe it is important that we give moderates in the region a fighting chance.  If proper training and equipment can do that, we should support it until it becomes clear that we must pursue other means to achieve our goal.  When that time comes, I expect Congress to have a full and open debate.

For now, Congress has a responsibility to carefully track what the Administration is doing with any funds it reprograms for this assistance and how this aid fits into a broader regional strategy.

The language in this bill will ensure that the Administration provides the information we need to do so.

Once again, support for this Continuing Resolution will achieve two very important goals:  avoiding a government shut-down and maintaining spending levels currently in law.  For these two reasons I will be supporting this bill.

During the break, and when we return in November, the Chair and I will be working closely on an Omnibus bill to put in place funding for the remainder of the fiscal year.

It is my hope that we will be able to once again reach an agreement and complete the work of the committee before this Congress adjourns.  I believe that this is an achievable goal as long as both sides come to the table with reasonable expectations.  We have done it before and I expect that we can do it again.

Thank you, M. President.