US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon wants to finish the last Pentagon policy bill of his career by Oct. 1. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon wants to finish the last Pentagon policy bill of his career with less of the political drama that nearly killed the last one.
The House last year completed its version of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before the summer season officially started. The Senate tried to pass its version in late November but failed. Eventually, in late December, just hours before the upper chamber adjourned for the rest of the year, it passed a version that leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees had hashed out in private.
McKeon wants to avoid that this year.
“Finish by Oct. 1,” he said after remarks on Afghanistan during a luncheon appearance at the National Press Club here when asked about his top priority for the 2015 NDAA.
A partisan squabble over the Senate’s rules caused that chamber’s fumbling with the must-pass legislation last year.
The way McKeon sees it, the NDAA could again be a victim of politics.
Both chambers are expected to head home for most of October as members campaign for reelection. And when they get back, with more and more experts saying the prospect of GOP control of both is a growing possibility, McKeon sees little incentive for the Senate to finish any bill.
“If we don’t get it done by the time Congress leaves,” he said, “it will be very, very difficult.”
McKeon did announce his panel is “on a timeline” to complete — meaning hold a floor debate and final vote on — its version of the legislation “in early June.”