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Senate Defense Authorization Bill Stalled - For Now

Nov. 19, 2013 - 03:24PM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNET   |   Comments
House And Senate Delegates Meet To Set Congression
Sen. Jeff Sessions speaks during a Nov. 13 conference on the fiscal 2014 Budget Resolution. Sessions and other Republicans have objected to how the Democratic leadership is handling amendments to a Pentagon policy bill. (Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — The US Senate’s 2014 defense authorization bill appears stalled while rank-and-file members and leadership determine a process to debate and vote on amendments.

The chamber’s leaders had hoped to begin addressing the likely more than 100 amendments to the Pentagon policy today. But, as they have so often during the last few years, Republicans took to the floor Tuesday to object to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s handling of the legislation.

The Nevada Democratic leader has “filled the tree,” meaning Reid determined the amendments that will be addressed. Senate Republicans want an open-amendment process.

Senate Armed Services Committee member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said Reid’s less-than-open amendment process is “absolutely contrary to the ... very concept of the United States Senate.”

Democrats counter by saying that without capping the number of amendments, it could take months to pass a complex measure such as the defense authorization bill.

But Sessions claims SASC members were assured that some issues the committee opted against addressing as it marked up the bill would be addressed via floor amendments. That’s not the case six months later, and Republicans are vowing to hold up the bill until Reid gives at least a bit.

Before emitting an audible sigh, Sessions declared, “We should already be working on amendments.”

Senate leaders and top SASC members had hoped to wrap up work on the National Defense Authorization Act before the chamber’s Nov. 28 Thanksgiving break, but that now seems unlikely, barring weekend sessions.

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