Defense Appropriations and Authorization Refresher

Sarah Tully

A post-recess reminder of where Congress is with the National Defense Authorization Act, Defense Appropriations, and a stop-gap continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown by October 1.

National Defense Authorization bill (NDAA):  

On May 15, the House approved the FY 2016 NDAA by 296 to 151. 135 amendments were considered. On June 18, the Senate approved the authorization bill 71-25. Of the 600 amendments filed, 58 were voted upon. There were many speeches and quorum calls and not much action.

The bill is now in conference, and conferees are at odds over certain interrogation provisions, Tricare co-pays, Guantanamo detainees, OCO, and of course, the Sage Grouse (click here to watch the bird’s terrifying mating dance).

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Defense Appropriations: 

On June 2, the House appropriations committee approved $578.6 billion in discretionary defense spending ($490.2 billion in base and 88.4 billion in OCO). On June 11, the House passed its version of the bill 278-149. The Senate Appropriations Committee report on their version of the bill came out June 11 as well.

On June 18, McConnell filed cloture to bring the bill to the senate floor. The motion failed on a mostly party-line vote of 50-45. Democrats objected to the $38 billion extra funds added for the Pentagon without a commensurate increase for domestic spending.

On September 22, McConnell forced a second roll call vote to invoke cloture to bring the appropriations bill to the floor. Filing for cloture, knowing full well the Democrats will not change their position, is part of a larger effort by McConnell to embarrass Democrats for being “anti-troop” and “put Democrats on record on consequential issues, inflicting some political pain in the process.”

The cloture motion to proceed with the Defense Appropriations bill was rejected by a vote of 54-42.

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Continuing Resolution (CR):

The new fiscal year starts on October 1. Congress must pass some sort of budget – temporary or otherwise – to ensure the government does not shut down on that date.

On September 22, Senate Republicans introduced a stop-gap continuing resolution (CR), a spending bill that would fund the government through December 11. The bill includes language to defund Planned Parenthood, and a $13 billion increase in Pentagon spending without a commiserate increase in non-defense spending. Democrats were expected to object to both provisions, and the bill failed on September 24 by a vote of 47-52 (60 votes were needed to pass). A clean CR — certainly without the Planned Parenthood provision — is expected to be filed immediately after, and will likely pass. Presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), however, is prepared to oppose a clean CR over the Planned Parenthood issue.

The House is in a state of confusion, and hopes that a coalition of House Republicans and Democrats can overcome the objections of the most conservative House Republicans to passing a clean Continuing Resolution first approved by the Senate.