Defense policy bill clears final Senate hurdle
© Greg Nash

An annual defense policy bill overcame its last procedural test Wednesday, paving the way for final passage.

The Senate voted 84-14 to end debate on a House-passed shell bill being used as a vehicle for the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It also agreed by a voice vote comprised of only a handful of senators to attach the defense policy bill to the shell. 

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Wednesday's move sets up a final vote on the bill, which Republicans predicated would occur Thursday.

McCain made a closing pitch for the measure ahead of Wednesday's votes, suggesting the legislation was a necessary "reform bill" for the Defense Department. 

"It is a reform bill," he added. "A reform bill that will enable our military to rise to the challenges of a more dangerous world, both today and in the future." 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats slide in battle for Senate McConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care MORE (R-Ky.) said earlier Wednesday that the vote "puts the Senate on a path to bring the bill to final passage tomorrow." 

Senate Democratic leadership has criticized the defense policy bill because it includes an extra $38 billion in the Pentagon's war fund. But a majority of Democrats have backed the legislation on the procedural votes so far. 

McCain said ahead of Wednesday's votes that if senators voted against the bill because of the funding, "then they have their priorities upside down." 

"I intend to tell the American people about it because I believe that we're not serving the men and women who are serving this country to the best of their ability," he added. 

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