McCain apologizes to Democrats for Paul's block on defense bill

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Monday apologized to Democrats for a Republican attempt to block progress on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and said that blocking is helping to make the Democratic argument that filibuster reform is needed in the Senate to help move bills along more quickly.

McCain spoke on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, and told his Democratic colleagues that the "senator from Kentucky" will object to any more unanimous consent agreements until his particular amendment is considered. McCain didn't say it was Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), but Paul has previously said he would hold up work on the NDAA over language about the ability to detain terrorist suspects.

ADVERTISEMENT
McCain then apologized for the delay, and said the blocking effort could be making an argument for filibuster reform.

"Mr. Chairman, I again apologize for what seems to have happened, and much to my dismay, it lends some credence to the ... argument that maybe we ought not to do business the way that we are doing it here in the United States Senate," McCain said.

The hold on the NDAA was later lifted and a package of amendments added to the bill. McCain said the delay wasted three hours o f the Senate's time.

McCain also said, before the hold was lifted, that it is "disappointing" that any senator would feel that his "particular agenda is so important that it affects the lives and the readiness and the capabilities of the men and women who are serving in the military and our ability to defend this nation."

Democrats warned last week that they might eliminate the ability of senators to filibuster motions to proceed to legislation, which Republicans rejected as an attempt to limit the rights of the minority party.

A spokesman for Sen. Paul said the senator wants nothing more than a chance to review the amendment packages that the Senate is preparing to pass.

"As he has requested at numerous times before with multiple-amendment packages, Sen. Paul wanted an opportunity to review the amendments being offered up by UC [unanimous consent] and a delayed flight this morning pushed that timeline for review back until he could get to D.C.," said Paul spokeswoman Moira Bagley.

Soon after McCain spoke, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the other Republican from Kentucky, took to the floor to once again argue that Democrats should not make this rule change.

McCain and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) are managing the NDAA, which the Senate could be able to complete this week. Levin encouraged the senator from Kentucky to come to the floor to outline his complaints, in the hopes of resolving the issue.

— This story was updated at 4:13 p.m. to add reaction from Sen. Paul's office.