Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions
© Aaron Schwartz
The Senate is poised to deep-freeze a debate over President TrumpDonald John TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty MORE's war authority amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran. 
 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration GOP group's ad calls on Graham to push for election security: 'Are you still trying?' Harris keeps up 'little dude' attack on Trump after debate MORE (R-Ky.) moved on Monday evening to wrap up a mammoth defense bill, which Democrats had hoped to use as a vehicle for forcing a vote on Trump's ability to go to war with Iran. 
 
McConnell's move paves the way for a vote as soon as Wednesday to formally cut off debate, unless senators agree to hold the vote sooner. Republicans want to wrap up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the end of the week.
 
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Senators could still try to reach a deal to hold amendment votes but that would require the sign off of every senator — an uphill climb in the GOP-controlled Senate. Any attempt to get a vote on one amendment would also likely spark similar calls on the nearly 600 amendments that have been filed to the NDAA.
 
Instead, Democrats will have to decide if they will prevent Republicans from cutting off debate in order to get a vote on an amendment from Democratic Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Air Force nominee: Setting up Space Force would be 'key imperative' GOP senators object to White House delaying home-state projects for border wall MORE (Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallOvernight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Defense Department says "forever chemical" cleanup costs will dwarf earlier estimates Senators from both parties offer resolution to nix Trump emergency declaration to build wall MORE (N.M.) that would block funding for military action against Iran unless Trump had received congressional approval.
 
The move would mark a significant step for Democrats because they would be blocking a bill that has passed for nearly 60 years in overwhelmingly bipartisan votes.The bill also authorizes funding for projects in many of their home states. 
 
 
"I'd like to have it not get a vote," he said. 
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall Pelosi: 'People are dying' because McConnell won't bring up gun legislation MORE (D-N.Y.) called on McConnell to delay passage of the NDAA until after the Senate Democratic debates this week, arguing that the Senate should hold the Iran vote and every Democrat should be present to vote on it. 
 
To block the bill, if every senator voted, they would need 41 members agreeing to not advance the NDAA until they were able to force a vote on the Iran amendment. 
 
Senators formally voted 86-6 to start debate on the NDAA on Monday evening. Democratic Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperLawmakers grill manufacturers over 'forever chemicals' contamination EPA ordered to set stronger smog standards America is in desperate need of infrastructure investment: Senate highway bill a step in the right direction MORE (Del.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharOn The Money: Democratic candidates lay into Trump on trade | China exempts US soybeans, pork from tariff hikes | Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure Overnight Energy: Harris goes after DOJ antitrust probe of automakers over emissions | Trump on energy-efficient light bulbs: 'I always look orange' | Climate change only briefly discussed in third presidential debate CNN, NY Times to host next Democratic debate in October MORE (Minn.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Ocasio-Cortez endorses Markey in Senate race amid speculation over Kennedy candidacy House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees MORE (Ore.), Udall and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenKey Senate Democrat unveils proposal to tax the rich Overnight Health Care: Trump seeks ban on flavored e-cigarettes | Purdue Pharma nears settlement with states, cities over alleged role in opioid epidemic | Senate panel cancels vote on key spending bill amid standoff Pelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan MORE (Ore.) voted against starting debate on the bill. 
 
Udall said he voted against starting debate because they didn't have a commitment that the Iran amendment would receive a vote. 
 
“It would be the height of irresponsibility, and a true abdication of our constitutional duty, to finish the NDAA while blocking a vote on our urgent, bipartisan amendment to prevent an unauthorized war. … The Senate cannot duck this vote, and Majority Leader McConnell should honor his commitment to an open amendment process. We cannot do our constitutional duty without one," Udall said in a statement.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump defends push to ban flavored e-cigarettes: Let's 'keep young children from Vaping!' Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Overnight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare MORE (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, wouldn’t rule out that Democrats could try to block the bill unless they can get a vote on the Iran amendment

“If McConnell decides to take a stand against any amendments then we’re going to have to take a whip count,” Durbin said. 

Asked if he thought enough Democrats would vote to block the NDAA if they can’t get a vote on the Iran amendment he added “let’s do the math. They have 53 votes they need seven. We have 47. So the question is can we hold 41 of the 47.”
 
—updated at 12:30 a.m.