Votes Continue, But At A Slow Pace
Last Friday, the Senate voted in a 68-23 decision to proceed to the next step in the voting process on the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act. This motion will allow 30 more hours of debate to consider amendments, of which there are many, before moving to a final vote.
During Friday’s rounds of debate, an amendment put forth by SASC Chairman John McCain that would have raised overall defense spending by $18 billion was voted down. A similar effort from the Democrats to raise defense and non-defense spending by $18 billion was also rejected. This means that the 2011 Budget Caps have been reaffirmed, at least for now.
There are hundreds of amendments up for consideration on the FY17 NDAA bill. The McCain amendment was one of the principals, now that it has been rejected the two most contentious ones that remain are Sen. Kristin Gillibrand’s amendment to remove military chain of command on sexual assault cases and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s amendment to issue visas to Afghan soldiers and translators who have served alongside US military.
Obama’s Veto Threat:
Earlier last week the Obama administration said the president would consider a veto on the Senate NDAA if it included an amendment that would prevent him from closing Guantanamo Bay. However, today, Reuters released a report stating President Obama has ruled out using an executive order to override a Congressional ban on closing Guantanamo. Lack of legal grounding and a fast-approaching election makes an executive order imprudent, according to the administration, and also means the president will likely not meet his goal of closing the facility before the end of his presidency.
The House is scheduled to take up consideration of the FY17 Defense Appropriations bill tomorrow. The primary part of the bill that has been cause for serious debate it its shift of OCO defense funds to the base budget, thus shortchanging the full OCO budget and betting on a presidential request for more defense funding next year. The maneuver is not popular amongst Democrats or the Obama administration, and seriously threatens a presidential veto if it survives to the final version of the bill.
Appropriations Running Behind…
At this rate, the Senate has passed two appropriations bill and the House has passed one and rejected one. It is likely that the tradition of a “catch-all” bill at the end of the year to prevent a government shutdown is upon us once again.
This is a busy time of year for the appropriations process. Stay tuned for developments this week, and expect another Capitol Integration “Quick Hit” update next week.