By Ramsey Cox
Merkley said the amendment, which passed on a 62-33 vote, also expedites the transition of security missions from U.S. service members to Afghan forces, but is non-binding.
Republican senators who supported the amendment included Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), John Hoeven (N.D.), John Thune (S.D.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
The Senate also passed an amendment introduced by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), 2995, which would allow defense industry employees to attend Department of Defense educational programs. The amendment passed by voice-vote, in addition to an amendment from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, 3124, which expresses a zero-tolerance policy on human trafficking by U.S. contractor workers.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) also passed by voice-vote, the amendment 2972, which designate the taps bugle call as the national song of military funerals.
The Senate is scheduled to continue amendment work on the National Defense Authorization Act, S. 3254, on Thursday, with hopes of finishing work by the end of the week. The defense bill funds U.S. military operation.
The following amendments were passed by unanimous consent:
2948, introduced by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), extends a temporary increase in rates of basic allowance for housing under certain circumstances until Dec. 31, 2013.
2962, introduced by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), requires a homeland defense hedging policy and strategy report from the secretary of Defense, among other things.
2971, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), states the Senates concern about the use of lands near airfields, training airspace and air training routes for the sake of security.
2981, introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), prohibits a waiver of commissioning or enlistment for those convicted of a sexual felony.
2986, introduced by Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pa.), requires the Department of Defense to establish a reporting mechanism that allows a subcontractor to report fraudulent activity by a contractor with respect to a subcontracting plan submitted to a procurement authority, among other things.
2989, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), extends a program of referral and counseling services to veterans at risk of homelessness who are transitioning from institutions until Sept. 30, 2013.
There was no information on amendments 3085, 3110 and 3166, which also passed, at the time of publication.