Mitch McConnell won’t cancel crucial Senate votes, even with 7 Democrats out of town for the presidential debates

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed requests to postpone crucial votes because several Democratic lawmakers will be traveling to Miami, Florida for the 2020 primary debates this week.
  • The Senate is poised to vote on the annual defense bill, widely viewed as one of the most important pieces of legislation each year.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had previously asked to delay votes until the presidential candidates returned to Washington next week.
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WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laughed off requests to postpone crucial votes while the several Democratic senators running for president in 2020 take part in the first primary debates in Miami, Florida.

Despite requests to delay voting from top Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, McConnell is moving forward on the annual defense bill, a must-pass piece of legislation for Congress.

Read more: Here’s the lineup for the first 2020 Democratic presidential debates taking place this week

Schumer asked for a vote delay so that the full chamber could be present for a vote on a key amendment that would bar funds for military engagement in Iran without congressional approval.

“Leader McConnell is no doubt aware that several members of this body will be absent this week for the Democratic Presidential debates,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday. “We should wait to have the vote until the full body is present. There is no rush to complete the NDAA. We have passed it very frequently later in the year with no harmful consequences to our military.”

But McConnell was not having it, instead vowing to hold votes this week for the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act while at least seven Senate Democrats will be out on the campaign trail.

“So especially in light of current events, I was incredulous to hear the Democratic Leader call yesterday to postpone moving forward with the NDAA,” McConnell said. “Apparently some of our Democratic friends need to go hit the presidential campaign trail. They can’t be here because they got to go campaign. For not one day, but two this week.”

“They’re too busy to stay in the Senate and authorize the resources that our all-volunteer armed forces rely on,” he added. “Postpone legislation on our national defense to accommodate the presidential race? In the middle of this ongoing crisis overseas? Come on. Come on.”

Read more: Trump signs more sanctions punishing Iran after it shot down a US drone

McConnell characterized Democratic candidates as feeling “compelled to skip out so they can compete for the favor of ‘the Resistance.'”

“The rest of us, the Republican majority – we’re going to be right here, we’re going to be right here working and voting to make America stronger and safer,” he said.

Many congressional Democrats will be out of commission this week due to the primary debates on back to back nights in Miami.

For the upper chamber, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Michael Bennet of Colorado are all slated to appear in the debates.