Week ahead: Senate to wrap up defense bill

Week ahead: Senate to wrap up defense bill
© Greg Nash

The Senate is expected to wrap up important defense work in the coming week with the passage of the annual defense policy bill.

It will be a short week on Capitol Hill. The House is gone for the week and the Senate is slated to leave town Wednesday.

The upper chamber is aiming to finish up the defense bill on Monday.

The Senate on Thursday voted 84-9 to end debate on the substitute amendment that makes up the chamber's version of the National Defense Authorization (NDAA).


Following that, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE teed up the vote for final passage on Monday evening.

For yet another year, in what is becoming a tradition, voting on amendments was tied up by disagreements over which ones would get floor votes.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainClimate change is a GOP issue, too It's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Meghan McCain on Pelosi-Trump feud: 'Put this crap aside' and 'work together for America' MORE (R-Ariz.) has said the impasse came down to four amendments: one from Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump Hillicon Valley: Google delays cutting off Huawei | GOP senators split over breaking up big tech | Report finds DNC lagging behind RNC on cybersecurity MORE (R-Utah) barring indefinite detention, one from Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren vows to fight 'tooth and nail' for LGBTQ protections as president This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto MORE (D-Wis.) tightening "Buy American" requirements for the Pentagon, one from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities MORE (D-Ill.) stripping limitations on medical research funded by the Pentagon, and one from Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator says Iran needs to 'stop acting like an outlaw' Sen. Tom Cotton: 'Memorial Day is our most sacred holiday' The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan MORE (R-Ark.) repealing enforcement of spending caps.

A package of 104 noncontroversial amendments was included in the bill, and McCain has expressed hope another manager's package can be adopted.

But barring a last-minute breakthrough, amendments on the most controversial issues, including the transgender troops ban and a new round of military base closures, won't see a vote.

Once the Senate passes its bill and both chambers return to town, work can officially begin on reconciling the upper chamber version with the House bill, which passed in July.

The funding numbers are the biggest stumbling block.

The Senate version of the bill would authorize $640 billion for the base defense budget and $60 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. The House version, meanwhile, authorize $621.5 billion in the base defense budget and $75 billion in OCO.

Another major difference is that the House version would create a new military branch dedicate to space, called Space Corps, while the Senate version would not.

Those issues and more will have to be hammered out when Senate and House negotiators meet.

Senators also have a hearings lined up for the coming week.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on recent ship collisions at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. http://bit.ly/2juUgBy

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the nominations of Jon Huntsman to be U.S. ambassador to Russia and Wess Mitchell to be assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Dirksen 419. http://bit.ly/2x4aRyZ


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