Congress is back in action, with members and reporters alike trying to figure out how both chambers would — if at all — address several national security issues in just five weeks.
The House has been able to move military policy and spending bills in routine fashion, meaning all eyes are on the Senate in the Democrats’ final weeks running the show on the north side of the Capitol.
As senators returned to legislative work, there was a lack of consensus on just how two “must-pass” defense bills would be completed by the time both chambers leave next month, marking the end of the 113th Congress.
Murky NDAA Path
Does hope spring eternal that the Senate can quickly pass an Armed Services Committee-approved version of the 2015 Pentagon policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, leaving time to pass a compromise version before this Congress ends?
Depends on who you ask.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who also chairs the Appropriations Defense subcommittee, told reporters the SASC bill won’t come to the floor under an “open-amendment” rule.
Later, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in line to chair the committee come January, said there are whispers among members that Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is open to allowing some amendments and moving the panel’s version.
“I’ve been told he’s going to allow some amendments,” McCain said.
SASC member Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said there may be little choice but to move a compromise version being worked out behind closed doors by House and Senate members and aides.