Schumer calls for delay on passage of defense bill amid Iran tensions

Schumer calls for delay on passage of defense bill amid Iran tensions
© Aaron Schwartz

Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US Colombian official urges more help for Venezuelan migrants MORE (D-N.Y.) is doubling down on his call for a vote on an amendment restricting President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE’s ability to go to war with Iran and urging Republicans to delay passage of the defense bill the measure would be attached to until after the Democratic presidential debates. 

Schumer, speaking from the Senate floor, argued the entire Senate should be present for a vote on the amendment from Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineTrump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing Acosta defends Epstein deal, bucking calls for resignation Republican lawmakers on why they haven't read Mueller report: 'Tedious' and 'what's the point?' MORE (D-Va.) and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHouse 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 Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets 'forever chemicals' MORE (D-N.M.), but that several Democratic senators are expected to be absent because of the presidential debates. 

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The amendment would prevent funding from being used for military action against Iran without congressional approval. 

“Considering the gravity of the situation when Iran, Democrats believe the full Senate should be present to vote on the Udall amendment. Leader McConnell is no doubt aware that several members of this body will be absent this week for the democratic presidential debates,” Schumer said. 

He added that the Senate “should wait to have the vote until the full body is present. There’s no rush to complete” the National Defense Authorization Act. 

But the proposal is one of nearly 600 that has been filed to the bill. It’s unclear if any will be allowed to get a vote. Republicans want to wrap up the defense bill by the end of the week. 

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinRepublicans scramble to contain Trump fallout Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US McConnell says Trump is not a racist, but calls for better rhetoric 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.”