Lindsey Graham is typically one of the Senate’s strongest supporters of the National Defense Authorization Act, but he threatened Wednesday to vote against the bill unless he is assured a vote on Iran sanctions.
“My decision about the defense bill will be linked to whether or not we get a guarantee to vote on the Iranian sanctions, if we can introduce them,” the South Carolina Republican told reporters Wednesday. “If you can convince me that there will be another path forward other than the defense bill, that will go a long way to shape my thinking.”
Under an agreement reached between Armed Services Committee leaders, Congress would fast-track the annual defense authorization bill, having both chambers vote on identical bills and refusing amendments in both chambers.
That’s a difficult proposition in the Senate, because many members would hoping to use the bill as a vehicle for their defense-related agenda.
Graham, who is a strong advocate for sanctions and for the authorization bill, promised he’d vote against the latter unless guaranteed a vote on the former. “I need a guaranteed vehicle to get this done. I think it’s that important to our national security,” he said Wednesday.
Graham’s hesitation adds another complication for the fast-track passage plan, an effort to get the legislation finished before the House’s scheduled departure Friday.
Other senators — including Republicans Tom Coburn and Rand Paul — are objecting to the barring of amendments, and Sen. Mitch McConnell has yet to say whether he’ll back the plan, in part over concerns about bringing forward Iran sanctions legislation.
What We're Following See More »
"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."
Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.
The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.
The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.