Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Democratic leader Harry Reid to stop blocking a vote that urges the military to let all chaplains freely minister during the government shutdown.
“We need to remedy the situation immediately, and care for the troops that have volunteered to defend us,” McConnell said during a speech on the floor Wednesday.
On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a near unanimous resolution introduced by GOP Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia that urges the secretary of Defense to permit military chaplains to still be able to “perform religious services and ministry” during the shutdown.
“Last Saturday, the House voted 400-1 to express the view that a government shutdown should not interfere with the ability of military chaplains to provide services for our service members,” McConnell said. “The House took that vote amid reports that chaplains were limited in their ability to minister to those who sought their services — even if ministers were doing so on a volunteer basis.”
The Saturday vote came after the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA warned that — under current law — non-active duty chaplains would be breaking the law if they celebrate mass or practice their faith on military bases during the federal government shutdown.
“We’ve even heard reports that those who scheduled baptisms might not be able to have them,” he said. “Obviously, this is an intolerable situation.”
McConnell said, “It’s time” for the Senate to pass the bill.
“I call on the majority leader to allow a vote to express the Senate’s view that service members in my state, every other state, or overseas should be able to receive religious services,” he said. “This is one vote we should have today.”
A spokesman for Reid has not returned emails from The Daily Caller asking if he will bring the bill for a vote.