McConnell blasts Dems for last-minute rushing on Defense bill

Lauren Schneiderman

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for waiting to take up the Defense authorization bill until the end of the year.

The National Defense Authorization Act was passed out of committee back in June. The Senate is expected to pass the last-minute bipartisan deal Thursday.

“Under the Democrat Majority, this bill has basically languished since the summer — 6 months have elapsed since the Armed Services Committee first reported the NDAA out for floor action,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “Now, with just days to go before Christmas ... the majority wants to rush this crucial legislation through without the debate it deserves.”

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Republicans wanted votes on amendments addressing Syria, Iran sanctions and sexual assault in the military, but because the House left for the holiday a week before the Senate, there wasn’t time to go through the regular amendment process.

McConnell said that despite the fact that he is upset, and no amendments to the bill would be considered, he supports the measure.

A deal negotiated by leaders on the House and Senate Armed Service committees authorizes more than $600 billion in defense spending for the Pentagon.

Some protections for victims of sexual assault were included, such as providing a lawyer for victims and criminalizing retaliation against victims who report assaults. 

The bill also allows the transfer of Guantánamo Bay detainees to foreign countries for trial, but bans them from entering the United States.

On Wednesday evening, the Senate is expected to have the 60 votes needed to end debate on NDAA, but Republicans might not yield back the 30 hours of post-cloture debate, meaning final passage will come later in the week. 

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