Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe said Tuesday that he was “shocked” when Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer moved to postpone votes on the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) until after this week’s Democratic presidential debates.
“That’s clearly saying that politics is more important than national security,” Mr. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said on the Senate floor.
On Monday, Mr. Schumer called for the Senate to delay the passage of the defense authorization bill so that all senators could be present. Seven Democratic senators will be participating in the first round of primary debates on Wednesday and Thursday including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennett of Colorado.
Two Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand will also be participating in the debates.
“Considering the gravity of the situation with Iran, Democrats believe the full Senate should be present to vote on the Udall amendment” — which would require congressional approval of any military funds spent on a war with Iran, Mr. Schumer said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday dismissed Mr. Schumer’s proposition.
“Apparently, some of our Democratic friends need to go hit the presidential campaign trail,” he said on the floor. “They can’t be here because they have to go campaign.”
Mr. Inhofe blasted the notion that the NDAA, which his committee drafted, could be postponed for what he called “purely political reasons.”
“They got a daytime job and they need to be doing their daytime job which is defending America and passing the NDAA,” he said.