Senate blocks war fund limits
© Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday blocked an attempt to put limits on the Pentagon's war fund as part of an annual defense bill.

Senators rejected 46-51 an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedTrump urged to quickly fill Pentagon post amid Iran tensions Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless MORE (D-R.I.) that would have fenced off $38 billion in war funds until Congress reached a deal to lift the budget caps imposed by sequestration.

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainVeterans group to hand out USS John McCain T-shirts for July 4 on the National Mall Will we ever have another veteran as president? Meghan McCain clashes with Joy Behar as the 'sacrificial Republican' on 'The View' MORE (R-Ariz.), who spearheaded the annual defense bill, suggested that while he doesn't like using the Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) fund as a way to skirt Defense Department budget caps, it's better than nothing.


"OCO was not the right or best way to do business," he said. "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. It would be a disaster if this $38 billion is removed."

But Democrats rallied around Reed's change ahead of the vote.

Asked whether he backed Reed's amendment, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinRepublicans, Trump Jr. signal support for embattled West Virginia governor Critics say Interior's top lawyer came 'close to perjury' during Hill testimony The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump takes heat for remarks on help from foreign governments MORE (D-W.Va.) said, "Oh, very much so."

Manchin also voted for it in the Senate Armed Services Committee, where it failed to garner enough support to be included in the policy bill.

Sens. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Female senators hatch plan to 'shame' Senate into voting faster Trump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation MORE (D-Hawaii) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyYoung activists press for change in 2020 election Hillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups Senate Democrats press regulators over reported tech investigations MORE (D-Mass.) also voiced their support for Reed's amendment ahead of the vote.

The White House has threatened a veto of the Defense authorization bill, which outlines broad policy and spending requirements for the Pentagon. The administration argues that if Congress wants to increase defense spending, it must also increase nondefense spending.

Democrats have suggested that the current fight over the war fund is a precursor for a larger fight over the defense appropriations bill, which the Senate is expected to take up after it finishes work on the NDAA.

While Senate Democratic leadership has pledged to block that bill, it's unclear if they'll also try to hold up the NDAA.

"I don't know what will happen," Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinCongress unlikely to reach deal on Trump border bill before break Democrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks Overnight Health Care: Trump officials defend changes to family planning program | Senators unveil bipartisan package on health costs | Democrats pass T spending bill with HHS funds MORE (D-Ill.) told reporters when asked whether Democrats would filibuster the bill if Reed's amendment failed. "I think I know what our plan is on appropriations; it's not as clear on defense authorization."