Week ahead: Senate to wrap up defense bill

Week ahead: Senate to wrap up defense bill
© Greg Nash

The Senate is expected to wrap up important defense work in the coming week with the passage of the annual defense policy bill.

It will be a short week on Capitol Hill. The House is gone for the week and the Senate is slated to leave town Wednesday.

The upper chamber is aiming to finish up the defense bill on Monday.

The Senate on Thursday voted 84-9 to end debate on the substitute amendment that makes up the chamber's version of the National Defense Authorization (NDAA).

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Following that, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress GOP lawmakers want Trump to stop bashing Congress Parkland father calls out Trump, McConnell, Ryan after Santa Fe shooting MORE teed up the vote for final passage on Monday evening.

For yet another year, in what is becoming a tradition, voting on amendments was tied up by disagreements over which ones would get floor votes.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain How House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe MORE (R-Ariz.) has said the impasse came down to four amendments: one from Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee Doug Jones to oppose Haspel as CIA chief This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE (R-Utah) barring indefinite detention, one from Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinMcConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Vukmir gets boost with Wisconsin Senate GOP primary endorsement  GOP senate candidate dismisses 'fake outrage' over remarks against Democratic veterans MORE (D-Wis.) tightening "Buy American" requirements for the Pentagon, one from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThis week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions Dem lawmaker spars with own party over prison reform MORE (D-Ill.) stripping limitations on medical research funded by the Pentagon, and one from Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonSenate confirms Haspel to head CIA Democrats urge colleagues to oppose prison reform bill Trump-backed prison reforms face major obstacles in Senate MORE (R-Ark.) repealing enforcement of spending caps.

A package of 104 noncontroversial amendments was included in the bill, and McCain has expressed hope another manager's package can be adopted.

But barring a last-minute breakthrough, amendments on the most controversial issues, including the transgender troops ban and a new round of military base closures, won't see a vote.

Once the Senate passes its bill and both chambers return to town, work can officially begin on reconciling the upper chamber version with the House bill, which passed in July.

The funding numbers are the biggest stumbling block.

The Senate version of the bill would authorize $640 billion for the base defense budget and $60 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. The House version, meanwhile, authorize $621.5 billion in the base defense budget and $75 billion in OCO.

Another major difference is that the House version would create a new military branch dedicate to space, called Space Corps, while the Senate version would not.

Those issues and more will have to be hammered out when Senate and House negotiators meet.

Senators also have a hearings lined up for the coming week.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on recent ship collisions at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. http://bit.ly/2juUgBy

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nominations of Jon Huntsman to be U.S. ambassador to Russia and Wess Mitchell to be assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2x4aRyZ

 

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