Senators do battle ahead of war fund vote
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Schumer steps on the gas to move Biden agenda Hoyer says Dec. 15 is drop-dead deadline to hike debt ceiling MORE (R-Ky.) accused Democrats Tuesday of trying to hold an annual defense bill "hostage for partisan reasons" as senators battled ahead of a vote on limiting the Pentagon's war fund. 

"The United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the Second World War, and yet, some Democratic leaders seem to think that this is the moment, this is the moment to hold our national security hostage to the partisan demands for more spending on Washington bureaucracies," the Republican leader said. 

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Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight MORE (R-S.D.) said supporting the National Defense Authorization Act "should be a no-brainer" for Democrats.

"Holding troop funding hostage for political purposes is reckless and irresponsible, and if that weren't enough, the White House is busy lobbying Senate Democrats to abandon bipartisan efforts that went into this bill and back up a presidential veto," Thune said. 

Democrats are rallying around an amendment to the annual policy bill from Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Defense & National Security — Quick vote on defense bill blocked again Rubio blocks quick votes on stalemated defense bill Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (D-R.I.) that would fence off $38 billion in war funding until Congress reaches a deal to roll back the budget caps under sequestration, imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.) said he was "flabbergasted" that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Bob Dole: A great leader of the 'Greatest Generation' The bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns MORE (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, "is agreeing to this one-time gimmick" of funding the Pentagon through the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, which isn't subject to budget caps. 

"We need to fix sequestration for more than just the Pentagon. We need to fix sequestration for defense and nondefense programs jointly," he said.  

McCain shot back that while "OCO was not the right or best way to do business, the worst way to do business is to have an authorization that will eliminate our ability to defend this nation and the men and women who serve it." 

The White House has threatened a veto of the defense bill, and administration officials met with Senate Democrats last week to rally support for upholding the president's potential veto.

Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson10 new astronaut candidates inaugurated at NASA NASA spacewalk delayed due to debris threat This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead MORE (D-Fla.) said that because of "budget fakery," he would oppose the bill. 

Democrat Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSchumer steps on the gas to move Biden agenda Overnight Health Care — Biden touts drug price push Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (W.Va.), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHonolulu shuts down water well amid fuel contamination concern Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Democrats call out Biden Supreme Court commission MORE (Hawaii) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySenators seek to curb counterfeit toys and goods sold online Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Pledged money not going to Indigenous causes MORE (Mass.) also voiced their support for Reed's amendment on Tuesday. 

"The bottom line is that we need to get our long-term budget that reduces the deficit in line, and increasing the OCO money that this bill has in it right now only hurts that goal," Manchin said. "It makes it much more difficult and elusive." 

McConnell tried to pressure Democrats into supporting the policy bill, asking "every sensible Democratic colleague to keep on the side with the American people and pull these party leaders back from the edge." 

"I'm asking my friends across the aisle to join us to support wounded warriors instead of brinkmanship," he added.