Durbin Urges Colleagues to Pass NDAA & National Security Supplemental Request

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin urges his Republican colleagues to drop demand that passage of national security supplemental request be tied to immigration reform

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, today urged his colleagues to swiftly pass the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report.  In his remarks on the Senate floor, Durbin emphasized that the package includes critical funding fornational defense, pay raises for service members, and provisions centered on strengthening security partnerships with U.S. allies. 

“I'd also like to speak briefly on the National Defense Authorization Act.  The bill authorizes $886 billion forAmerica's defense, expanding benefits for service members, strengthening national security.  It provides a 5.2 percent pay increase for our troops in the Pentagon civilian workforce, the largest increase in 20 years.  Importantly, the conference report excludes a number of dangerous partisan provisions that were designed to rip away the freedoms of the very Americans who we every day send to defend [them],” Durbin said.

Durbin explained the provisions included in the NDAA that he authored, including one to uphold Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty as the country fights for survival against Russia, as well as ones to strengthen our partnerships with the Baltics and Australia.

As Republicans continue to tie security aid to Ukraine and Israel to border security discussions, Durbin concluded his speech by responding to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) remarks on the floor today, falsely arguing that Democrats are unwilling to work toward a solution on the U.S.-Mexico border.  Durbin first spoke about the necessity of turning Congressional attention to finding a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.

“I want to close on a topic that Senator McConnell raised of immigration.  It is not an easy issue.  I've given 20 years of my life here in the Senate to the issue of immigration and feel it was time well spent.  It was over 20 years ago that I introduced the Dream Act,” Durbin said.  “Infants, toddlers, and children brought to the United States by their parents, growing up here, going to school and determined to help this country succeed in the future.  And what do they find when they're teenagers?  That they are undocumented.  They don't have legal status in the United States.  I've always believed they deserve a chance.”

“That is something we should do automatically [offer a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients].  We should have done it a long time ago to protect these young people and the aspirations they have to make us a better nation.  These are young people who will serve us not only as teachers and engineers, but doctors and nurses and members of our military.  If we give them the chance to fight and die for America, they'll do it.  They want to be part of this nation's future, and they deserve that opportunity,” said Durbin.

Durbin then directed his remarks to the Southern border, noting that while new policy is necessary, it must center around the humanity of those entering the country.

“I have taken a close look at the situation at the border.  I know that change is necessary, but it must be change consistent with our values and realistic.  For Republicans to propose a change which says that those who come into the country seeking asylum will either be detained or sent to remain in Mexico, a policy that Donald Trump tried during his presidency, there are some fatal flaws here.  How in the world are we going to detain all those people presenting themselves at the border?” Durbin said.  “And secondly, this notion of ‘Remain in Mexico,’ there is only one party to this conversation that hasn't agreed to it -- Mexico.  They don't want to have these people residing in their country for long periods of time while we work out changes in America's legal system.”

Durbin went on to demand that his Republican colleagues drop their demand that aid to U.S. allies be tied to immigration policy.

“The notion that in seven days or 14 days we can craft some change in an immigration policy that will help us for time immemorial is unrealistic and naive. To condition any assistance to Ukraine on the achievement of that political goal is nonsense,” said Durbin.

“I think back as a son of an immigrant myself, I know there was a determination in my family to make it in this country.  We have got to find a way to carefully construct a border policy that still takes advantages of the opportunities of immigration, the people who will come here and make us a better nation in the years ahead, and do it in a fashion that is thoughtful, not vindictive,” Durbin concluded.  “That is what immigration requires, and I hope that we can reach that goal.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.