Sen. Richard Shelby is uncertain if the Senate will pass a Pentagon spending bill. (Andrew Burton/ / Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — Can the US Senate put aside a years-long procedural impasse and pass a Pentagon spending bill? The top Republican on the Appropriations Committee has his doubts.
“If [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] wants it to come to the floor after recess and after the elections, it’ll come to the floor,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the panel’s ranking member, told CongressWatch. “He has that prerogative.”
But what if the 27-year veteran had to bet on whether or not his committee’s $547.9 billion will get to the floor?
“If I had to guess, I’d say no,” Shelby said.
If the upper chamber again fails to pass its own version of a defense appropriations bill, Shelby and Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., could negotiate a compromise version with their House counterparts. The tactic, known as “pre-conferencing,” has been used in recent years to produce defense policy and spending legislation due to the Senate’s partisan procedural squabbling.
Shelby hinted that could again be the way a final 2015 Pentagon appropriations bill — which could be included in an omnibus government-wide funding bill — passes both chambers.
With a coy grin, he said, “The House has been tracking a lot of the stuff we’ve been doing.” ■