WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are still in negotiations over the National Defense Authorization Act, the chairmen of the House and Senate armed services committees told reporters yesterday.
"I think we've made progress and hopefully we will have a conference report available to come to the floor soon," House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said Tuesday.
Both Thornberry and the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declined to discuss specifics of the conference negotiations. Debate is said to center on differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, to include military pay and benefits, acquisition reform, and plans to close Guantanamo Bay.
"I don't know about timing. I think most issues are resolved, and we had some further communication over the August break," Thornberry said. "Hopefully I can get a conference report available as soon as possible."
Thornberry said the House and Senate provisions on acquisition reform are complimentary, "so hopefully we will get it before too long."
"I feel pretty good about where we are on acquisition reform," he said.
McCain told reporters he had spoken with Thornberry over the break and hoped to make progress this week.
In late June, McCain told reporters he expected to have the conference report out in early July.
While Thornberry is not part of cCongressional leadership, he has a large stake in budgetary matters. As Ccongressional leadership wrangle over the budget, he said he expects Congress will pass a short-term measure known as a continuing resolution (CR), to fund the government at 2015 levels until late in the calendar year at 2015 levels.
Longer term, Thornberry said he hopeds for a Murray-Ryan 2.0-style compromise. The 2013 deal named for Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Paul Ryan temporarily lifted spending caps for two years.
SASC Ranking Member Jack Reed, D-R.I., also told reporters he hopeds for a Murray-Ryan-style deal, though he said there had been no talk at his level on the contours of such a deal.
"That means dealing with sequestration as we did previously under Murray-Ryan, so we can give agencies, policymakers and the American people the confidence we have two years of budgets which are reasonable and executable," he said.