NDAA Clears Key Hurdle, Final Passage Expected This Week

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

AA Font size + Print

Wednesday's vote ran over Republican objections that prohibited additional amendments to the defense authorization bill. By Stacy Kaper

The National Defense Authorization Act passed a key test in a 71-29 Senate vote Wednesday, clearing the measure’s path to passage as Congress races to finish the bill before year’s end.

The annual bill that authorizes $552.1 billion in spending for national defense and $80.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, is considered critical for guiding Department of Defense priorities. It provides pay increases for military members, authorizes health care benefits, provides additional authority for a Pentagon program to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, and requires additional assessments of Iran’s global network of terrorist and criminal groups.

Wednesday’s cloture vote was a key test for the measure, which has run into Republican objections over a procedural process that did not allow for amendments this week.

Some Republicans have expressed outrage that they were denied the ability to have a full debate on amendments to the measure on the floor earlier this year. The Senate Armed Services Committee passed its bill in June, but the full Senate did not take it up until just before Thanksgiving. Democrats and Republicans were unable to work out an agreement to consider most amendments.

In order to avoid allowing the authorization bill to lapse at the end of the year, House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders worked out a compromise in a pre-conference announced last week. That agreement afforded the Senate the opportunity for only an up-or-down vote on the measure.

(Related: House NDAA Bill Approves 1 Percent Pay Raise for Troops)

Lawmakers have expressed frustration that the agreement has prevented a debate on Iran-sanctions legislation, and other pet issues like an amendment from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would take the decision of whether to prosecute sexual assaults out of the chain of command.

By denying the Senate the ability to legislate, debate, and amend the National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Appropriations Act, and additional Iran sanctions—and by refusing the Senate the ability to vote on the authorization for the use of force against Syria—the majority leader has abdicated this chamber’s constitutional role in shaping and overseeing national-security policy,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the floor Wednesday.

Fights on those issues are expected to resurface next year.

This bill does include other reforms to combat military sexual assault by providing a victims’ counsel and removing the power of commanders to overturn sexual-assault convictions, among other reforms.

The bill also takes steps towards President Obama’s goal of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by allowing foreign transfers of detainees.

The House approved the defense bill last week on a vote of 350 to 69. After the Senate’s final passage, the bill will move to president’s desk for signature.

Jordain Carney contributed to this article.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.