Week ahead: Showdown over defense bill

The Senate will take up the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Tuesday, bringing Republicans a step closer to a showdown with President Obama.

The House on Thursday, in a 270-156 vote, passed the final conference report — a combined version of the House and Senate defense policy bills. If it passes the Senate, it heads to Obama, who has said he would veto it.

There are not enough votes to override the president’s veto — which would send the bill back to the Armed Services Committee. Only 37 House Democrats voted for the bill on Thursday.

{mosads}The White House opposes the bill mainly because it keeps budget caps on federal spending, but boosts defense spending by putting $38 billion into a war fund not subject to the limits.

The president and Democrats want Republicans to lift the caps on defense and nondefense spending.

Democrats say they won’t support any budget that doesn’t lift the caps. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said recently that GOP leaders and President Obama have begun budget talks.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the Armed Services Committee ranking member, said he would not support the bill, and advised Republicans to work out the budget issue first, before acting on the NDAA.

But McConnell has planned a procedural vote for Tuesday, and it’s not clear whether Democrats will filibuster the bill. Republicans need 60 votes to move forward, including the support of at least six Democrats.

In June, 30 Democrats voted to move forward on the bill, and 21 Democrats voted in favor of it.

Other than the defense bill, Congress will have a busy week, looking at a host of defense and foreign policy issues.

Gen. John Campbell will testify before both the House and Senate Armed Services committees on strategy in Afghanistan. First up is the Senate hearing on Tuesday with the House committee hearing, scheduled for Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear about U.S. strategy in the Middle East in relation to Yemen and the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

On Wednesday, a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee will hold a hearing on plutonium disposal.

Also Wednesday, a subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on U.S. policy toward North Korea.

A House Foreign Affair Committee subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday reviewing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent state visit to the United States.

On Thursday, a House Armed Services Committee subcommittee will hear from Army commanders about sequestration’s effect on training and readiness.

Later that same day, another House Armed Services subcommittee will hold a hearing on suicide prevention programs.

A Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee will hear Thursday about diplomatic security.

Also on Thursday is a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the humanitarian crisis in Syria.



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Tags Jack Reed Mitch McConnell

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