Senate passes $700B defense bill

Senate passes $700B defense bill
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The Senate easily cleared a nearly $700 billion defense policy bill on Monday, despite a fight over amendments that slowed down the legislation. 

Senators voted 89-8 on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes roughly $640 billion in base defense spending and $60 billion in war funds. 

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Senators will now need to go to conference with House lawmakers to reconcile differences between their two versions of the bill. They'll then have to pass a compromise deal by the end of the year and send it to President Trump's desk. 

Monday night's passage of the bill comes after lawmakers filed more than 400 amendments to the legislation. Only one, a failed effort by Paul to sunset the 2001 and 2002 war authorizations, got a vote. 

The hang up, according to Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal Bipartisan senators reintroduce bill to prevent Trump from withdrawing from NATO Mark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally MORE (R-Ariz.), stemmed around four proposals that lawmakers wanted a vote on, including a push by Sen. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonOn The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Overnight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Ark.) to "end sequestration" and a measure from Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinBlagojevich's wife 'speechless' that officer's sentence less than half of husband's Trump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback Democrats signal they'll reject Trump shutdown proposal MORE (D-Ill.) stripping limitations on medical research funded by the Pentagon 

Cotton knocked Democrats for not agreeing to lift the spending caps, saying they are "holding our troops hostage to politics solely because their leader wants them to." 

"Whenever a Democratic senator says they are worried about the state of our military, they are horrified about the kind of cuts we're making ... don't believe them. They don't mean it. They're not serious," he said. 

The stalemate on amendments forced Senate leadership to start wrapping up the bill late last week and run out the Senate's clock on debate time. 

Despite the slow walking, the legislation was still widely expected to easily pass before lawmakers leave Washington mid-week. Senators agreed to speed up a series of final procedural votes on Monday evening.

McCain and Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Energy: Pentagon report warns of climate threats to bases | Court halts offshore oil testing permits | Greens challenge federal drilling work during shutdown Overnight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pentagon warns of threat to bases from climate change MORE (D-R.I.), the top two members of the Armed Services Committee, also got a deal to tuck more than 150 noncontroversial amendments into the Senate bill.

And leadership offered their support for both the overall defense bill and McCain ahead of Monday's vote. 

"The members of that committee, from both parties, came together to support this year’s NDAA and send it to the Senate floor. It’s yet another testament to the leadership of Sen. McCain, the committee’s top Republican, and Sen. Reed, his Democratic counterpart," said Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Senate to take up Trump's border-immigration plan next week Trump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback MORE (R-Ky.). 

Now that the Senate has cleared its legislation, they will need to work with the House to hammer out a deal, including coming to an agreement on defense spending. 

The Trump administration requested a $603 billion base defense budget and $65 billion for the war fund, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account.

But the House's defense bill, contrasting with the Senate, includes only $632 billion in base spending, but $65 billion in war funding. 

The House's bill also backed creating a new military branch dedicated to space, called the Space Corps, while the Senate's version did not.