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 McCainMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Meghan McCain: Melania is 'my favorite Trump, by far' Kelly says Trump not likely to extend DACA deadline 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 McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 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." 
 
 
 
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 ShelbyCornyn: We'll need at least one more stopgap funding bill Moore supporters fire back at Richard Shelby Disaster aid becomes hostage to funding fight MORE (R-Ala.) shot that down.
 
Despite the amendment squabble, senators were able to pass the 2016 bill in a 85-13 vote.