Defense appropriations delay irks lawmakers

Some lawmakers are growing antsy over the delay by House Democratic leaders in moving the 2010 defense appropriations conference report to a vote.

Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), a senior defense appropriator, told The Hill on Friday that the vote on the conference “possibly” will not happen until December.

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“We’re ready,” Moran said. “The problem is [this] is considered a must-pass bill. This is the ace that the leadership has up their sleeve.”

Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), the ranking member of the Appropriations Defense subcommittee, quipped: “We don’t want it to become the joker.”

Young and other Republicans have been pressuring the Democrats not to add contentious and unrelated legislation to the bill.

Moran said that so far it is unclear what the plan for the bill is and whether it is going to carry a D.C. voting rights bill or spending for other government agencies.

The House leadership is expected to meet with President Barack Obama next week to discuss the strategy for the pending appropriations bills.

Meanwhile, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the Senate Appropriations Chairman, said in a short interview with The Hill that conference negotiations between the two chambers are proceeding. He also expressed confidence that the 2010 Pentagon-spending bill “will pass very soon.”

J. Taylor Rushing contributed to this report