Yesterday, the Senate voted 93-7 to approve the bill. Senate and House conferees will meet this month in conference to reconcile differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill.
The seven “no” votes were cast by three Republicans, three Democrats and one independent: Coburn (R-OK), Paul (R-KY), Lee (R-UT), Harkin (D-IA), Merkley (D-OR), Wyden (D-OR) and Sanders (I-VT).
The bill contains $527 billion for the basic Pentagon budget, $117 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $18 billion for Department of Energy, for a total of about $662 billion. The total authorization is $27 billion less than the President’s request and $43 billion less than enacted in Fiscal Year 2011.
By unanimous consent, the Senate adopted a package of 11 “non-controversial” amendments. It also adopted other amendments by voice vote. The Senate rejected two amendments offered by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) to alter the controversial provisions on detainees in the bill, but later approved a compromise amendment offered by Sen. Feinstein by vote of 99-1 that would leave it to the Supreme Court to make the final decision on the constitutionality of holding American citizens in military custody. It is unclear if this compromise language will be enough to prevent the White House from vetoing the final version of the bill.
The Senate also unanimously approved an amendment offered by Sens. Kirk (R-IL) and Menendez (D-NJ) that would call for sanctions on the Iran Central Bank. Dozens of other amendments were either not voted on or withdrawn. Prior to passage of the bill, Sen. Levin (D-MI) indicated that he plans to offer as separate legislation a package of 71 pending amendments to the bill that were objected to by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX).
In all, there were 382 amendments filed to the bill, but many were minor, many were non-germane and many faded away.
MAJOR AMENDMENTS CONSIDERED
Strategic airlift: Ayotte (R-NH) and Reed (D-RI) amendment No. 1065 to permit the Air Force to reduce the strategic airlift (cargo airplanes) inventory from 316 to 301, which they say will save $1.2 billion and supported by the Air Force, was adopted by voice vote Nov. 17.
Adding National Guard to Joint Chiefs of Staff: Leahy (D-VT), Graham (R-SC) and many other Senators’ amendment No. 1072 to add the head of the National Guard to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adopted by voice vote Nov. 28.
Detainees: There are a host of amendments by Mark Udall (D-CO), Feinstein (D-CA,) Leahy (D-VT)and Franken (D-MN) to delete or modify detainee provisions in the bill agreed upon by Sens. Levin (D-MI) and McCain (R-AZ). The White House has threatened a veto over the Committee-approved measure. Numerous Senators have amendments from the other direction. Udall (D-CO) amendment No. 1107 to eliminate the detainee provisions defeated 38-60, Nov. 29.
Counterfeit electronic parts: Levin (D-MI) and McCain (R-AZ) modified amendment No. 1092 providing greater penalties for companies that provide counterfeit electronic parts for military weapons systems. Adopted by voice vote, Nov. 29.
Authorization for the use of military force (AUMF): Paul (R-KY) and Gillibrand (D-NY) amendment No. 1064 to terminate the authorization to use force in Iraq. Defeated 30-67, Nov. 29.
Small Business and Technology Transfer: Landrieu amendment No. 1115 to reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer. Adopted by voice vote, Nov. 29.
Unanimous consent package of amendments: A package of 40 amendments were adopted on Nov. 30. Among those are:
==Gay marriage: Wicker (R-MS) amendment No. 1056 to clarify that military chaplains are not required to perform a gay marriage; the House has a similar provision. The House bill also included a provision requiring the Pentagon to observe the Defense of Marriage Act.
==Auditing Pentagon books: McCain (R-AZ), Levin (D-MI) and Ayotte (R-NH) amendment No. 1132 to require a Pentagon plan by May 15, 2012 for auditing its books no later than September 2014.
==Nuclear weapons triad: Sessions (R-AL) modified amendment No. 1183 to require a report from the Administration if it proposes a change to the nuclear force structure.
==Cooperation with Republic of Georgia: McCain (R-AZ) modified amendment No. 1281 to require a plan for normalizing defense cooperation with the Republic of Georgia, including the sale of weapons.
==Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles: Hatch (R-UT) amendment No. 1315 requiring a report on long-term maintenance of a minimal capacity to produce ICBM solid rocket motors.
Pakistan: Corker (R-TN) modified amendment No. 1172 to require a report assessing the reimbursements from the Coalition Support Fund to the Government of Pakistan for operations conducted in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Adopted by voice vote, Nov. 30.
Afghanistan: Merkley (D-OR), Baucus (D-MT), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Brown (D-OH), Cardin (D-MD), Conrad (D-ND), Durbin (D-IL), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harkin (D-IA), Leahy (D-VT), Lee (R-UT), Manchin (D-WV), Murray (D-WA), Paul (R-KY), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (D-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Udall (D-NM) and Whitehouse (D-RI) modified amendment No. 1257 (and several variations) to urge an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Adopted by voice vote, Nov. 30.
Cybersecurity: McCain (R-AZ) amendment No. 1229 encouraging Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security cooperation on cybersecurity. Adopted by voice vote, Nov. 30.
Missile defense on the East Coast: Sessions (R-AL) amendment No. 1185 to require a report on the findings and conclusions of the Pentagon’s homeland missile defense hedging strategy review, including a discussion of the feasibility and advisability of establishing a missile defense site on the East Coast Adopted by voice vote, Nov. 30.
Unanimous consent package of amendments: A package of 11 amendments were adopted on Dec. 1.
Detainees: Feinstein (D-CA) amendment No. 1125 to clarify the applicability of requirements for military custody with respect to detainees. Defeated, 45-55 Dec. 1. Feinstein amendment No. 1126 to limit the authority of the Armed Forces to detain citizens of the United States under section 1031 of the bill. Defeated, 45-55 Dec. 1. Feinstein compromise amendment No. 1456 to leave it to the Supreme Court to make the final decision on the constitutionality of holding citizens in military custody. Adopted 99-1, Dec. 1.
Iran sanctions: Kirk (R-IL) and Menendez (D-NJ) amendment No. 1414 to require the imposition of sanctions with respect to the financial sector of Iran, including the Central Bank of Iran. Adopted 100-0, Dec. 1.