Workers secure the US Capitol Christmas tree on the west side of the Capitol building. Senators will again try to pass a Pentagon policy bill after the Thanksgiving break. (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — The US Senate likely will take a second swipe at passing a Pentagon policy bill as soon as it returns from a two-week Thanksgiving break.
A senior Senate Armed Services Committee aide tells Defense News that panel leaders and aides “are continuing to work through the holiday time to prepare for the NDAA to be back on the Senate floor the week of Dec. 9.”
The Senate plodded along for several days last week on its 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the process broke down on Thursday. The chamber killed a motion that would have ended debate on the must-pass bill and set up a final vote.
SASC Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., pinned blame on Republicans such as Ranking Member James Inhofe, R-Okla., saying they submitted nearly 20 amendments late in the week that the two sides never previously discussed.
A spokeswoman for Inhofe declined to comment on Levin’s version of why the process fell apart.
The legislation, when Energy Department funding is factored in, would authorize about $522 billion in base 2014 defense funding. That’s about the same level authorized by a House-passed version of the bill.
The Senate’s bill calls for $80 billion for overseas contingencies operations; the House-passed level is $85 billion. A conference committee would have to find a compromise war-funding amount.
Levin last week said the pre-Thanksgiving breakdown put the bill “in jeopardy,” raising new doubts about whether a 51-year streak of both chambers passing a final NDAA might be broken.