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.
Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (R-Tenn.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (D-N.Y.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Judiciary squares off over John Lewis voting rights bill Senate Democrats introduce legislation to strengthen Voting Rights Act 92 legal scholars call on Harris to preside over Senate to include immigration in reconciliation MORE (D-Vt.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeRetreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' Senate locks in deal to vote on debt ceiling hike Thursday MORE (R-Utah), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySenate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act Democrats call on White House to explore sharing Moderna technology abroad Lawmakers introduce bill to limit data collection at border crossings MORE (D-Ore.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDemocrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' MORE (R-Ky.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden: We will fix nation's problems Left doubles down on aggressive strategy MORE (I-Vt.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats' reconciliation bill breaks Biden's middle class tax pledge Missouri education department calls journalist 'hacker' for flagging security flaws on state website Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates MORE (D-Ore.) voted against the mammoth bill.
GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE (S.C.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE (Fla.), as well as Democratic Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden Rand Paul blocks quick vote on House-passed B Iron Dome funding MORE (N.J.) missed the vote.
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 McCainThe Biden-Harris train wreck may have its savior: 2024 GOP nominee Donald Trump Kelly raises million in third quarter Legislative limbo — how low can they go? MORE (R-Ariz.), stemmed around four proposals that lawmakers wanted a vote on, including a push by Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Ark.) to "end sequestration" and a measure from Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats struggle to gain steam on Biden spending plan Press: Where's Merrick Garland when we need him? 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 ReedJack ReedLIVE COVERAGE: Senators press military leaders on Afghanistan Top Republican: General told senators he opposed Afghanistan withdrawal We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it 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 McConnellBiden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights 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.