The Senate on Thursday passed the National Defense Authorization Act by 84-15 after a protracted debate and Republican disgruntlement over the process used to pass the measure.
By passing the measure before adjourning, the Senate ensured that critical national security initiatives will not lapse at year’s end, including combat pay, military pay increases, resources for troops in Afghanistan, and counterterrorism measures.
The House approved the same bill last week. It now moves to the president’s desk for his signature.
The bill authorizes $552.1 billion for national defense and another $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations.
It includes some reforms to address sexual assaults, but lawmakers hope to continue that debate next year. It also takes steps toward President Obama’s goal of closing Guantanamo Bay by lifting restrictions against detainee transfers abroad.
“While the bill does not address all of the administration’s concerns, its provisions regarding foreign transfers of detainees held at the U.S. Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will provide the administration additional flexibility to transfer detainees abroad consistent with our national security interests,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a press release.
Republicans criticized the process, lamenting the fact that the bill considered critical to national defense languished in the Senate for six months without action — only to be finished without the allowance of an open amendment process.
The vote comes near the end of a contentious post-Thanksgiving work period colored by Republican anger over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s change in filibuster rules that effectively guts the opposition’s power to block most nominees.
As Reid has forced members to vote on nominees since the contentious rule change, Republicans in many cases have forced Democrats to run out the clock by taking up maximum debate time after procedural cloture votes.
What We're Following See More »
"On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), a Democrat on the House intelligence committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the senior Democrat on the House government oversight committee, announced they were introducing legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate any attempt by the Russian government or persons in Russia to interfere with the recent US election. The commission they propose is modeled on the widely-praised 9/11 Commission."
"Two Colorado presidential electors Tuesday filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a state law that requires them to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote," in this case Hillary Clinton. They say they want to "vote for a third-party candidate to keep Trump from receiving 270 electoral votes," and work with other faithless electors around the country to "shift their Democratic votes to a consensus pick."