Senate defense bill at standstill over amendment fight
© Greg Nash

A mammoth annual defense policy bill is facing a fight over which amendments will get a vote — a familiar roadblock in the Senate.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDonald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing The Memo: Trump’s media game puts press on back foot Meghan McCain shreds Giuliani for calling Biden a 'mentally deficient idiot' MORE (R-Ariz.) said the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is at an "impasse" as senators are demanding votes on their own proposals and holding up others from potentially getting a vote. 
 
"I hope overnight my colleagues on both sides would sit down and figure out, as we have a number of amendments, a way that we can reach a point where we can have up-or-down votes on these amendments which are important to the nation," McCain said from the Senate floor. 
 
More than 400 amendments have been filed to the annual defense policy bill, which normally passes with bipartisan support but is a lightning rod for other issues because of its status as a must-pass bill. 
 
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Shortly after McCain's comments, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress had a good couple of weeks — now let's keep it going McCarthy: 'The Mueller investigation has got to stop' McConnell: Mueller 'ought to wrap it up' MORE (R-Ky.) teed up votes to bring debate on the bill to a close.

The move — absent a deal — will effectively force the Senate to run the clock until an initial vote on ending debate on the NDAA can occur, as soon as Friday. Senators could get a deal to wrap up the bill faster though, with McCain floating the idea that without additional amendment votes they could finish it tomorrow.
  
"I must say that we're at an impasse on about four amendments, all four of which are important amendments, and we simply can't get an agreement," McCain said. "We'll probably call for the Majority Leader to file cloture." 
 
The four amendments causing the delay include a proposal on indefinite detention by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGraham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult Liberal groups launches ads against prospective Trump Supreme Court nominees Overnight Finance: Senators introduce bill to curb Trump's tariff authority | McConnell calls it 'exercise in futility' | Kudlow warns WTO won't dictate policy | Mulvaney feud with consumer advocates deepens MORE (R-Utah) and a "Buy America" proposal from Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinMembers of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit Ellison introduces bill to curb stock buybacks Dem Senate super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads MORE (D-Wis.), according to McCain — though he noted other issues could crop up even if those were resolved. 
 
The impasse comes after Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul's neighbor sentenced to 30 days in prison over assault Dems best GOP as Scalise returns for annual charity baseball game The Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? MORE (R-Ky.) threatened to slow-walk the defense bill and block any other amendments from getting a vote until the Senate voted on his proposal to sunset two war authorizations. Senators shot down that measure earlier Wednesday in a 61-36 vote.
 
It's not the first time debate on the defense bill has been cut short because of a disagreement over amendments. 
 
Last year, McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) blamed Lee for refusing to let any other amendment get a vote unless he got a separate vote on his proposal to ban detaining U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.
 
Graham said at the time that he offered Lee a deal that would have allowed the Utah Republican a vote if an Export-Import Bank measure was also brought up, but Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyMembers of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit Domestic spending: Why Congress should invest more in housing House passes Trump's plan to claw back billion in spending MORE (R-Ala.) shot that down.
 
Despite the amendment squabble, senators were able to pass the 2016 bill in a 85-13 vote.