December 18th, 2009
09:11 AM ET
9 months ago

Senate ends debate on defense spending

Facing year-end holidays and running out of time to discuss health care reform, the Senate voted early Friday to end debate on funding for the Department of Defense.
Facing year-end holidays and running out of time to discuss health care reform, the Senate voted early Friday to end debate on funding for the Department of Defense.

Washington (CNN) – Facing year-end holidays and running out of time to discuss health care reform, the Senate voted early Friday to end debate on funding for the Department of Defense.

The motion passed 63 to 33, gaining the necessary 60 percent majority and setting up a final vote on the $636 billion package for Saturday.

The House of Representatives passed the spending bill 395 to 34 on Wednesday. The measure includes money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but does not include the additional costs expected for the 30,000 U.S. troops the Obama administration announced it will send to Afghanistan next year. A separate request for those troops is expected to come up for a vote next spring.

The defense bill is the last spending measure of the year for both chambers of Congress.

The end of debate on defense spending means the Senate can resume its discussions on health care reform. The body is deeply divided on the issue, making it difficult for Senate leadership to find a consensus.

Those tensions were palpable on the Senate floor early Friday, with Democrats suggesting their Republican counterparts were sacrificing the defense of the nation to stall health care reform.

"Many who are filibustering this defense appropriations bill tonight are filibustering because they want to delay ... the health care reform legislation from being voted on," said Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.

"So the bill that provides the funding to support our men and women in uniform who are serving on the front lines, often under arduous and dangerous circumstances, to protect our nation is being filibustered to keep the Senate from acting on another unrelated piece of legislation. This is not only unbelievable; it is unconscionable."

But Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl was having none of it.

"Don't blame Republicans for the fact that this bill comes before us a week before Christmas and, therefore, we have to act on it at this point in time. Republicans had nothing to do with that timing," he said.

If the Senate eventually passes a health care bill, its version would have to be merged with the version the House of Representatives passed in November, which includes a public health insurance plan. The final bill would then need approval from both chambers before going to Obama to be signed into law.

Obama and Democratic leaders have said they want the bill completed this year. The Senate would need to finish its work this week to leave a realistic chance of meeting that schedule.


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Terry, TX

    There better not be any pork in it...it better just be for our troops.

    December 18, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  2. ran

    And this is how the Republicans act and some of you want them back in power. They started the wars and were willing to have our service man and women fight without the needed funding, because they do not like a health care bill.

    If you do like what the Democrats are doing which by the way is for you then by all means vote them out but not by voting in a Republican.

    Help find another viable 3rd party. Republican are not now or have been a party for the people.

    Enough of this insanity. If you really want change then you would make sure in 2010 that we have 60 true Democrats and then you would see real change.

    December 18, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  3. Ken, Arizona

    I would urge the president to veto this bill and demand that all earmarks be stripped before signing it.

    December 18, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  4. GI Joe

    We won't forget all of these stalling tactics. We WILL vote you out.

    December 18, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  5. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    $636 billion to fund two wars to kill people in ONE year sails through both houses with nary a peep.

    But try to spend 890 billion over TEN years to save Americans and we are are mortgaging our grandkids future!

    The conclusion to be drawn from this disconnect, is the majority of Americans are ok with deficits as long as they kill people, via war or lack of health insurance coverage.

    And we are in the season that is supposed to be about Christ?

    December 18, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. does not include the additional costs expected for the 30,000 U.S. troops

    debt keeps a piling up

    soliders keep leaving and not returning

    end the war

    December 18, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Randy

    I get sick of hearing over and over the Repubs are in with big corporations, and that the same corporations are ruining the country. The same people who believe this are typically anti-capitalism and totally against the trickle down economics of the 80's. Now lets take a look back at the almighty ones stimulus plan, that was fully supported by the Dems. Look at how the money was dispersed, did one indivudual person get a government check, or did Obama and company pass this money down through large corporations. Trickle down with government at the top. All 536 (1 Pres, 435 House, 100 Senate), are in the pockets of big corp. Our country as we knew it is gone, the people need to revolt.

    December 18, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I can blame the Republicans for delaying everything else that would have sped the Health Care Reform along its way. That is what I blame Republicans for; not being able to come up with something as an alternative. It is time to put up or shut up. This goes for the pundits as well.

    December 18, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. buckeye

    President Eisenhower warned us about the dire consequences of a parasitic military industrial complex decades ago. How right he was!

    December 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  10. New Age Independent

    So much for Obama's promises... We're still in Iraq and Afghanistan and the strategy seems to indicate a weak political mind. Waging war by the way the polls swings is a complete disaster. Unfortunately I was fooled last election in voting for this fool, and now I'm paying the price. I wont make the same mistake again.

    December 18, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  11. Cynthia in MI

    Go, Al. I object to Lieberman too.

    December 18, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  12. LacrosseMom

    With the BILLIONS we have been spending on the Bush Wars, we could have insured EVERY man, woman and child in our Nation!

    We could have improved our schools. We could have rebuilt our crumbling infrastructure.

    The "fiscal conservatives" did not complain when Bush invaded Iraq; hiding the cost of the war, so we would not be upset! They did not complain when we found out that we have been spending $10 BILLION A MONTH, fighting a war that did not need to be fought! While Bush was growing the deficit, not one "fiscal conservative" complained!

    But...... we are a War Nation, we live by the sword..... tragic.

    December 18, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Guess the republicans want the new troops to land in Afghanistan with no weapons food or clothing until next spring. Wonder what GW had that allowed him to get everything he wanted from the senate while he destroyed the country. Amazing.

    December 18, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  14. Michael

    "Don't blame Republicans" will be what we'll hear over and over again through 2012. You watch. If the health bill fails, it will be Dems' fault. If the troops are killed because Republicans refuse to hear a word about withdrawals, it will be on Dems. If the health bill PASSES, but doesn't do enough sucking up to Republican desires, it's all on Dems. Never mind that Republicans do nothing but waste time with lies, scare tactics, oh, and prayer telecasts headed by a guy, Lou Engle, who wants to take over the country for Christianity, in the name of all the babies we've murdered through abortion. Never mind that they think war is A-OK, and I assume that torture and the death penalty are fine by them too, regardless of the Ten Commandments and Jesus' call to "love thy neighbor." These folks in Congress are looking to this guy to stop the horrors of universal health care. I guess they think God is a Republican who also gets his way by lying and crying. And you thought we had separation of church and state.

    December 18, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. dread

    Billions upon billions spent by the pentagon while our country goes down the tube? Americans go broke paying for health care while we spent billions on wars of choice and weapons that we don't need?
    We don't even have any real threats against us, and if we spent the pentagon's budget coming up with alternate energy, we could stop buying middle eastern oil, and they would all go back to being poor nomads who don't have the resources to threaten us.

    December 18, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. Ferret out the BS

    Its too bad that these extremely important budget bills get bogged down with so called "pork" which usually effects the timing, content, and possible passage, but this is the political process we have evolved too in our Democratic system. Even though the majority of voters rail against earmarks and pork, if their congressional representatives didn't get the special projects for their constituents they probably wouldn't last too long in office. Quite often we have to look at ourselves as being the crux of the problem because we expect our reps to "bring home the bacon!"

    "We have met the enemy and he is us."

    December 18, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Sniffit

    Go home for Christmas now, the less time you're in Washington, the better off the citizens are.

    December 18, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. Annie, Atlanta

    That's 58 Democrats, 2 independents, and three Republicans, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snow. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sent a letter to Mitch McConnell which warned of a "serious disruption" in the military's ability to pay troops. It said in part: "It is inconceivable to me that such a situation would be permitted to occur with U.S. forces actively deployed in combat." We're at war, and the Republicans are playing games.

    I'd like to know if these clowns think attempting to shut down our government's ability to work at every step is a benefit to them. Isn't this a little like cutting off your nose to spite your face? They offer NOTHING, no solutions, no plans, NOTHING. They're just taking up space, yet we still pay them. Why? Send them packing, frequently, until we actually get legislators who are willing to legislate, not obstruct.

    December 18, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. Another Reformed Republican

    It is about time the Senate reigned the obstructionist Refuseniks and moved on.

    These Republican fools are obcessed with destroying Obama's Presidency that they will do anything to obstruct him even at the risk of damaging the United States and its citizens. It is time that the Democrats join together in stopping the Refusenik filibusters.

    December 18, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |