Will Congress start work this week on two bills for which the Pentagon and US defense sector are clamoring? It’s anyone’s guess.
The 113th Congress is expected to adjourn by the end of next week. In the remaining 10 or so legislative days, lawmakers are set to battle over corporate tax breaks and immigration while also flirting with a government shutdown.
Caught in the partisan and intraparty squabbling are the 2015 defense authorization and appropriations bills.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Monday listed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) among his must-pass bills.
“We need to work on [passing] the defense authorization legislation,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “We have a lot to do, and there isn’t much time to accomplish it.”
Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have for several weeks been negotiating a compromise version of the NDAA. But talks stalled before Thanksgiving over several personnel issues.
Committee chairs told reporters before a weeklong holiday break they hoped to get the pre-conferenced NDAA on the floor this week. But as the chambers gaveled back in Monday afternoon, it was unclear whether they would meet that goal.
“It is all totally up in the air,” a Senate aide said when asked about the prospects of the NDAA hitting the floor this week.
Also up in the air: whether lawmakers will find a way to avert shuttering the Pentagon and other federal agencies, and how things will play out if they do.
The chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., have been working on an omnibus spending bill. It would feature a dozen full-year 2015 agency spending bills, including one for the Pentagon.