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Senate defense bill being voted on today will eliminate funding for program that would give servicemembers access to cryopreservation 

Murray asks for unanimous consent to vote on her amendment to restore funding, but Republicans immediately reject her request  

Murray: “I have come to the Senate floor repeatedly over the past week to urge my colleagues to correct this truly shameful change—and with the clock running down on this bill, now is the time to act.”  

(Washington, D.C.) Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, asked for unanimous consent for a second time for a vote on her amendment to restore funding for the Pentagon’s pilot program that allows servicemembers to freeze their eggs or sperm before deployment. This program would give members of the military greater flexibility for family planning in the event they are wounded on the battlefield. However, the National Defense Authorization Act currently being considered on the Senate floor would zero out the program’s $38 million in funding, and today, immediately after Senator Murray asked Republicans to allow a vote on her amendment to restore funding, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) objected for a second time. 

"While I am disappointed my amendment will not get a vote, I refuse to give up," Senator Murray said following the Republican objection. "I will be exploring all options to restore this funding and to ?make sure our country is doing everything it can to help those who sacrifice so much on our behalf."

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s floor remarks:

“I don’t know how this line got in there. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea. I don’t know why. But what I do know is this—it’s absolutely wrong, and we should fix it. And that’s why I have come to the Senate floor repeatedly over the past week to urge my colleagues to correct this truly shameful change—and with the clock running down on this bill, now is the time to act.”

“…This new program was met with widespread praise, and relief.  It reflected a basic level of respect for servicemembers who are willing to risk suffering catastrophic injuries on our behalf. I was hoping that this new program was a step we could build on.”

“I am asking—again—for unanimous consent to have a vote on my amendment that would restore this pilot program. It’s hard to imagine any of my colleagues standing up to say that men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifices for their country—for all of us—should be denied a shot at their dream of a family.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“M. President, the bill we are considering today, the National Defense Authorization Act—has been described as one that will modernize the military health system—and give the men and women of our military higher quality care, better access, and a better experience.

“It has been described as upholding commitments to servicemembers. I wish I could stand here and say that I agree-- 100 percent. But M. President—there is a glaring problem in this bill. A problem that cuts against the idea that our country should be there for the men and women of our military, who risk so much on our behalf, no matter what. Just go to page 1,455 of this massive bill.

“Buried in a funding chart, there is one line that would zero out a new program intended to help men and women in our military who suffer catastrophic injuries while fighting on our behalf. I don’t know how this line got in there. I don’t know who thought it was a good idea. I don’t know why.

“But what I do know is this—it’s absolutely wrong, and we should fix it. And that’s why I have come to the Senate floor repeatedly over the past week to urge my colleagues to correct this truly shameful change—and with the clock running down on this bill, now is the time to act.

“M. President— let me give this some context. Six months ago, the Pentagon announced a pilot program to offer servicemembers who are getting ready to deploy an opportunity at cryopreservation - in other words, freezing their eggs or sperm. It gave deploying servicemembers not just the ability to have reproductive options in the event they are grievously injured— but also some much deserved peace of mind. It meant they don’t have to worry about choosing between defending their country or a chance at a family someday.

“M. President—this new program was met with widespread praise, and relief.  It reflected a basic level of respect for servicemembers who are willing to risk suffering catastrophic injuries on our behalf. M. President—I was hoping that this new program was a step we could build on. A move in the right direction, and an important part of our larger work to help the warriors who have sustained grievous injuries achieve their dreams of starting families.

“Which is why I was so disturbed when I learned that this bill would move us the other way. Despite what some of my colleagues may tell you, my amendment very deliberately states, it will not divert money from other important health programs. So M. President—I am asking—again—for unanimous consent to have a vote on my amendment that would restore this pilot program. It’s hard to imagine any of my colleagues standing up to say that men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifices for their country—for all of us—should be denied a shot at their dream of a family.

“M. President—I am hopeful that we can move to a vote—and I will be encouraging all of my colleagues to support it and step away from what would be a truly shameful mistake.”

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