Dem leaders optimistic on defense bill despite progressive concerns

Democratic leadership is exuding confidence that a sweeping defense policy bill will pass despite progressive grumbling.

Members of the Progressive Caucus said Wednesday they remain undecided on how to vote on the $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) they consider too costly, adding they are watching to see which amendments get added to the bill on the floor.

{mosads}But during a closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday, there were no fireworks as leaders and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) rallied support for the bill.

Smith told his colleagues inside the meeting that it’s a good bill and Democrats need to pass it, according to sources in the room.

“We didn’t hear any concerns in there. Everyone who spoke, spoke in favor of the bill,” Smith told reporters as he left the room.

A source in the room concurred with Smith. During the open-microphone period, all of the speakers spoke in favor of the bill, the source said.

The comments were “100 percent positive,” the source said.

Progressives, who are still stinging from losing a fight last month over a border-aid bill, have expressed concern that the NDAA’s $733 billion price tag is too high.

But they showed an inclination Wednesday to support the overall bill if amendments to constrain President Trump’s war-making powers get added to the bill.

Specifically, progressives are tracking amendments to prevent a military strike on Iran, block arms sales and other military support to Saudi Arabia, and limit the use of the existing war authorizations, among others.

“We’ll have to see what passes on the floor,” Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said. “We had a good meeting last night with Chairman Smith, and he has worked hard to include a lot of good progressive priorities. There are some more that need to pass on the floor. So we’re working to see exactly what that looks like.”

Tags Adam Smith Donald Trump Pramila Jayapal

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