The annual defense policy bill is unlikely to make any Thanksgiving menus this year.
With the Senate in recess this week and scheduled for just three weeks for the rest of 2021, despite a backlog of pending legislation, passing the fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act in the coming weeks is increasingly unlikely, according to reports.
Lawmakers have said there is almost no chance the current schedule — with a holiday recess beginning Dec. 10 — holds. Instead, they expect to be working through the holidays as they consider key legislation, including the NDAA, federal budgets, the U.S. debt limit and a $1.75 trillion reconciliation package proposed by Democrats.
The budget, or a continuing resolution, must be passed by Dec. 3 to avoid a government shutdown, further squeezing the NDAA timeline.
Typically, the NDAA receives broad bipartisan support. Senate leaders have said the bill will be considered next week, but expressed doubt that debate, amendments and other work would be completed ahead of the holiday.
Last week, Republican lawmakers warned time was running out to approve the bill.
In a press conference last week, 13 Republican senators called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to immediately bring the NDAA to the Senate floor for a vote.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the bill in September. And the full House approved its version of the bill that same month. Once the Senate passes its version, the two bills will still need to be reconciled in conference, voted on again and sent to the president for signature.
“Even though the National Defense Authorization Act is bipartisan and fulfills Congress’s most important duties – to provide for the common defense and take care of our troops – Sen. Schumer still won’t let us vote on the bill,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the ranking Republican on the SASC.
This year promises to have one of the latest NDAAs in recent memory. In the past decade, the Senate has approved the NDAA in November twice and December twice, according to Politico.
House Democrats have also expressed concern with the Senate delays with Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., telling Politico “There is no reason that this bill has not been put on the floor in the Senate.” Smith is chair of the House Armed Services Committee.