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 McConnellFord's lawyer: Hearing doesn't appear to be designed for 'fair', 'respectful' treatment GOP opens door to holding Kavanaugh committee vote this week Press: Judge Kavanaugh must withdraw 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 McCainCongress must use bipartisan oversight as the gold standard The Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward Trump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote MORE (R-Ariz.) has said the impasse came down to four amendments: one from Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Ex-college classmate accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week MORE (R-Utah) barring indefinite detention, one from Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinConservative who's faced Kavanaugh accuser's lawyer calls her fair and reasonable Trump calls Kavanaugh accusations ‘totally political’ Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests MORE (D-Wis.) tightening "Buy American" requirements for the Pentagon, one from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinAmnesty International calls to halt Kavanaugh nomination Fox's Chris Wallace: All 10 Democratic Senate Judiciary members again declined interview invitations Durbin: ‘No reason’ for people to remember Kavanaugh at party accuser describes MORE (D-Ill.) stripping limitations on medical research funded by the Pentagon, and one from Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator accuses Dems of ‘character assassination’ on Kavanaugh Sprint/T-Mobile deal must not allow China to threaten US security GOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh 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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