Senate Staff Push for Amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act

Influential staffers on key defense related committees are reaching out to congressional members in order to open a dialogue on how to proceed on this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

As one of the key pieces of legislation to be put forth after the elections, Senate leaders have been embattled on how to proceed on the bill once it hits the Senate floor. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has called for a clean bill with few amendments, while Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain (R-AZ), has called for a broader amendment debate.

“Typically members make decisions on what to offer once the bill comes to the floor,” one senior Senate aide said, adding they do so for various tactical and political reasons.

U.S. Senate Floor

However, due to the heavy load of legislation Congress will have to debate in a lame-duck session, the traditionally slower paced Senate faces serious problems. This leaves the Senate with a much smaller time frame to consider the NDAA.

Therefore, Senate Armed Services Committee staffers are hoping to shape any likely amendments to the bill sooner rather than later so that they can be adopted at one time by voice vote, rather than consume limited time in lengthy debates.

Another senior Senate aide noted the effort to get as many amendments as possible to be easily adopted serves another purpose as well. “We want to have as many members as possible to have skin in the game so the bill gets passed,” he said.

The Senate Armed Services bill would authorize $543 billion for the base defense budget and $88.2 billion for the war in fiscal 2013. Once passed, a Conference Committee will come together to reconcile the differences between the House passed NDAA and Senate passed NDAA. Senior House aides say they have been given the go ahead to begin preconferencing preparations for the NDAA.

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