Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight
© Greg Nash
House and Senate lawmakers will formally start trying to reconcile their mammoth defense policy bills on Thursday with a fight on President TrumpDonald TrumpMajority of Americans in new poll say it would be bad for the country if Trump ran in 2024 ,800 bottle of whiskey given to Pompeo by Japan is missing Liz Cheney says her father is 'deeply troubled' about the state of the Republican Party MORE's border wall looming. 
 
Members of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference committee are set to meet Thursday morning, marking the formal start to negotiations. 
 
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The Senate voted 87-7 on Wednesday evening to go to conference with the House to work out the differences on their defense bills. 
 
Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMajority of New York state Assembly support beginning process to impeach Cuomo: AP The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cuomo defiant as Biden, Democrats urge resignation The Memo: Disgraced Cuomo clings to power MORE (D-N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisA permanent Child Tax Credit expansion will yield dividends to taxpayers Kamala Harris and our shameless politics Pelosi: House Democrats 'ready to work with' Biden on eviction ban MORE (D-Calif.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySenate Democrats to introduce measure taxing major polluters Democrat senators introduce resolution for COVID-19 memorial day Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyDemocrats barrel toward August voting rights deadline Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Ore.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulKaine says he has votes to pass Iraq War repeal in Senate Overnight Defense: Senate panel votes to scrap Iraq war authorizations | Police officer fatally stabbed outside Pentagon ID'd | Biden admin approves first Taiwan arms sale Senate panel votes to repeal Iraq war authorizations MORE (R-Ky.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Senators highlight security threats from China during rare public hearing | Facebook suspends accounts of NYU researchers who've criticized platform Democrats urge Amazon, Facebook to drop requests for Khan recusal Senate Democrats to introduce measure taxing major polluters MORE (D-Mass.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe job of shielding journalists is not finished Up next in the culture wars: Adding women to the draft Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (D-Ore.) voted no. 
 
The House had already voted to start the conference committee. Though Thursday will mark the first formal meeting, staffers and key lawmakers have been talking behind the scenes for months. 
 
Lawmakers face a looming fight over whether or not to green light an effort to replace the $3.6 billion in military construction funding that the administration shifted toward the border wall as part of Trump's emergency declaration. 
 
The Senate defense bill "back fills" the funding, while the House bill does not. Democrats are fuming over Trump's decision to leapfrog Congress and shift the military funds toward the wall. 
 
"The House already voted this down. Democrats, myself, Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Leahy, have been crystal clear: we are not going to bless the president stealing money from the military by backfilling it later. This would render the Congress toothless, and the appropriations process meaningless," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerYouth organizations call on Biden to ensure 'bold' climate investments New York Times calls on Cuomo to resign 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Wednesday. 
 
Republicans made an 11th-hour effort to get it in the House bill before voting to go to conference but their "motion to instruct" negotiators to support backfilling the money failed largely along party lines. 

Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, argued the motion would “ensure that, as we continue to argue about border security and a whole variety of other issues, that our troops do not suffer as a result of that argument.”

Negotiators will also need to cut deals on other controversial issues including ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and a provision in the House bill that would block military action against Iran.