A compressed time schedule may cause the Senate to miss passing a defense authorization bill for the first time in 50 years, says Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
He urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Thursday to permit a vote on the bill, which would require several days for senators to go through potentially hundreds of amendments on the floor, The Hill
“It is not our right, it’s our obligation to get the authorization bill to the president’s desk,” McCain, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said on the Senate floor. “We may have significant disagreements, but for 50 years, this body has passed a defense authorization bill, and it has been signed by the president of the United States. We are in some danger of not letting this happen this year.”
The Armed Services Committee approved the bill unanimously in May. At that time committee chairman Carl Levin said he expected it to reach the floor in June or July.
He said Tuesday that he’s still “hopeful” the bill will be addressed before the Senate’s month-long recess begins Aug. 6. In 2010 and 2011, the bill wasn’t passed until year-end. But many senators hope to finish it before November this year, because of the huge workload that will certainly confront the lame-duck session of Congress.
The House already approved its defense authorization bill, which includes several provisions that conflict with the Senate bill. Those would have to be resolved in a conference committee. The House bill is about $3 billion higher than the bill passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
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