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 John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS 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. 
 
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 GillibrandSanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick MORE (D-N.Y.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris campaign releases web video highlighting opposition to death penalty Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE (D-Calif.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens MORE (D-Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens MORE (D-Ore.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes Top Foreign Relations senators introduce Turkey sanctions bill MORE (R-Ky.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally On The Money: Supreme Court takes up challenge to CFPB | Warren's surge brings scrutiny to wealth tax | Senators eye curbs on Trump emergency powers MORE (D-Mass.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Lawmakers condemn Apple, Activision Blizzard over censorship of Hong Kong protesters Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg defends handling of misinformation in political ads | Biden camp hits Zuckerberg over remarks | Dem bill would jail tech execs for lying about privacy | Consumer safety agency accidentally disclosed personal data 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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback 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 ThornberryFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Cheney slated to introduce bill to place sanctions on Turkey 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.