Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) raced to the television cameras this afternoon to offer hyperbolic attacks against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, following Reid’s decision to pull the entire Defense Authorization bill from consideration. McCain and Kyl were quick to dishonestly politicize Reid’s maneuver, after obstructing passage of the bill over opposition to an Iraq redeployment amendment:
MCCAIN: What have we done by not passing the Defense Authorization bill? We are not allowing a 3 1/2 percent pay raise to men and women in the military. We’re not modernizing their equipment, including MRAP. We are not passing the wounded warriors legislation, which we all know is vitally needed to care for our wounded veterans. We have placed the care of our wounded veterans in a lower priority than a debate over Iraq.
KYL: It’s an act of petulance, it seems to me. But it’s also a very wreckless and irresponsible action because the troops depend upon the Defense Authorization bill passing. That’s what the bill authorizes…the care that they get, the weapons that they get, the training and all the other things they need to carry out the mission.
“It’s a commentary on where the priorities are of those who brought down this bill,” fumed McCain. “It clearly cannot be the welfare and benefit and arming and training of both of our active duty military and the medical care for our veterans,” he added. Watch it:
McCain and Kyl’s argument that Reid’s maneuver will deny pay raises, equipment, and medical care to American troops is false on its face. Here are the facts:
1) The troops have all the funding they need. The defense authorization bill being debated in the Senate is for fiscal year 2008, which begins on October 1. Funding for the troops — including emergency appropriations — has already been earmarked through September 30th, 2007.
2) Conservatives are responsible for stalling passage of the bill. While McCain claims that Reid “brought down this bill,” in fact, Reid only resorted to pulling the bill after McCain and other pro-war senators blustered and stalled, refusing to allow an up-down vote on the Levin-Reed Iraq redeployment amendment. In fact, in his floor speech this morning, Reid specifically names McCain as one of “a handful of dedicated obstructionists” using procedural moves to block the vote.