Facing deadline, lawmakers try to salvage defense bill
December 9th, 2013
08:52 PM ET
9 years ago

Facing deadline, lawmakers try to salvage defense bill

Washington (CNN) - As Congress struggles to complete its lengthy to-do list before a holiday recess, bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate defense committees are pushing a compromise that would allow them to quickly pass a critical defense bill that is currently stalled in the Senate.

The bill, which Congress has passed for 52 straight years, has been held up over a bitter disagreement on how many amendments would receive votes.

The top Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are proposing a stripped down procedure they hope will allow them to pass the measure without amendments.

The move is a last-ditch effort to pass the bill, which sets overall spending authority for the Pentagon and provides details about weapons programs, pay raises for service members, and other significant military policies.

Among a host of provisions, the bipartisan lawmakers agreed on two hot-button issues Congress has debated in the past year.

On detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the compromise draws from the House and Senate measures by allowing them to be transferred to third countries – something the White House wants – but prohibiting them from being transferred to the United States for trial – something Republicans adamantly oppose.

On the question of battling sexual assault in military, lawmakers touted over 30 reforms included in the bill.

However, it does not include other provisions proposed by Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-New York, who has waged a high-profile fight to dramatically change the way those crimes are prosecuted, including controversial proposal to limit the role of commanders in handling sex assault cases.

An aide said Gillibrand will fight to get a separate vote on her reforms next year.

With the House scheduled to leave town Friday until January, the lawmakers said they hope the House will pass the bill this week and the Senate next week.

Despite the streamlined procedure the bill still could be filibustered in the Senate. If that were to happen, it could take several days to overcome the delaying tactic.

“This is the only chance we have to pass a bill this year,” said Sen. Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Sen. James Inhofe, the top Republican on the panel, said he has talked to some of his colleagues who opposed passing the previous bill unless they got more amendments.

“I see a totally different change in attitude now that we’re at a point where our choices are so limited,” he said. “It’s either we do it or don’t do it.”

Filed under: Congress • Kirsten Gillibrand
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. ladies first

    just use your brain and sign the ammendments that govern the American citizens that shouldnt be too hard Seriously

    December 9, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  2. david slone

    I wonder how much more they want, so they can send it overseas. cut the money in have and spend it here. stop paying other countries.

    December 10, 2013 01:31 am at 1:31 am |