Defense Policy Bill May Falter Over GOP Demands for Amendments

Prospects for seeing a new U.S. defense authorization law before year's end may hinge on whether GOP senators drop demands for votes on amendments.

House-Senate negotiators on Monday announced they had reached agreement on a $607 billion measure that would set Defense Department spending policy for 2014. Supporters of the draft legislation want to see it fast-tracked so the House can vote on it before adjourning at the end of the week for a scheduled holiday recess, leaving the upper chamber to vote on an identical version of the bill next week.

However, some Republican senators are balking at the likelihood there will not be enough time for votes on amendments to the yearly national defense authorization legislation.

Speaking for the Republican side, Senate Armed Services Committee member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Defense News, "We all want amendments to the bill."

"There are people who don't want to do it," committee member John McCain (R-Ariz.) said to journalists. "There are people on my side and the Democrat side who are objecting to this process ... because they haven't got [votes on] amendments.

Conferees agreed to fold 79 amendments offered by senators into the bill, including a measure that would ban the use of U.S. funds to integrate Chinese antimissile technology with U.S. missile defense systems. If enacted, the mandate would likely mean Turkey would not be able to connect the missile system it is considering purchasing from China with the NATO ballistic missile shield, which is primarily based on U.S. technology.

However, a number of other nuclear and missile-related amendments did not make it into the legislation, including a measure with considerable Republican support that would require the Obama administration to brief Congress on compliance issues related to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.

It is not yet clear if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will back the conference committee's compromise bill.

McConnell accused Senate Democrats of trying to fast-track the legislation in order to skirt a vote on an amendment that would heighten sanctions over Iran, Defense News separately reported.

December 11, 2013
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Prospects for seeing a new U.S. defense authorization law before year's end may hinge on whether GOP senators drop demands for votes on amendments.

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