Senate set to bypass Iran fight amid growing tensions
© Aaron Schwartz
 
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants 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 Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Health care moves to center stage in Democratic primary fight Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress MORE (Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' | Republicans form conservation caucus | Pressure mounts against EPA's new FOIA rule 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 SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US 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 CarperFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules when appointing industry leaders to science boards MORE (Del.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage Protect American patients and innovation from a harmful MedTech Tax increase MORE (Minn.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator FTC looks to update children's internet privacy rules MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate Democrat releasing book on Trump admin's treatment of migrants at border MORE (Ore.), Udall and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrat: Treasury 'acknowledged the unprecedented process' in Trump tax return rejection Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Top Democrat demands answers on election equipment vulnerabilities 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 DurbinDemocrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations 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.