Reid tries to end debate on defense bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a motion to end debate on the defense authorization bill Wednesday evening.

That move sets up a procedural vote after 30 hours of debate — though the vote could come sooner if there is agreement.

The Senate is debating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes more than $625 billion in defense spending for the Pentagon.

ADVERTISEMENT
The bill also gives an across the board 1 percent pay raise for services members, establishes protections for victims of sexual assault and allows the transfer of Guantánamo Bay detainees to the United States for trial or foreign countries.

Senators have been working to hold amendment votes, but so far haven’t reached agreement.

Senate Armed Service ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he would vote for the motion to end debate only if Republicans and Democrats agreed to allow at least 25 more GOP amendments, which could be voted on during the 30 hours of debate before cloture.

“If Republicans refuse to bring their number [of amendments] down to 25, then I will go ahead and support cloture of the bill,” Inhofe said before Reid filed the motion. “If the Majority-side says they’re not going to accept the 25 offer, then I will oppose cloture.”

Lawmakers are rushing to complete work on the bill by Thanksgiving so that House and Senate conferees would have time to report back to both chambers before the end of the year. Congress has passed an NDAA bill for 51 straight years.

Democrats would need 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, but they only have 55 in their caucus. 

Several Republicans complained that there wasn’t an open amendment process. But Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said that wouldn’t be possible because of time constraints.

“I can’t tell everybody in this body how disappointing this would be if we do not finish this bill tomorrow night or Friday,” Levin said. “There is only one week left where both the House and Senate are in session.”