Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions
© Aaron Schwartz
 
 
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.
 
 
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 SchumerChuck SchumerCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Trump backs plan to give airlines another billion in aid 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 CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat | White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus | Trump faces another challenge to rewrite of bedrock environmental law NEPA White House pushed to release documents on projects expedited due to coronavirus Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (Del.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Lobbying world MORE (Minn.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Merkley, Sanders introduce bill limiting corporate facial recognition MORE (Ore.), Udall and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Facebook removes Trump post | TikTok gets competitor | Lawmakers raise grid safety concerns Tensions flare as GOP's Biden probe ramps up  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 DurbinOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic 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.