Major Amendments in the Senate to Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Authorization Bill

On June 18, the Senate concluded its stutter step consideration of the annual defense authorization bill. Now it is on to a House-Senate conference.

After adopting a last managers’ package of “non-controversial” amendments by voice vote, the Senate approved the bill 71-25.

The final tally: about 600 amendments filed to be bill and 58 voted upon, a rate of about 10%. The 90% of amendments never permitted to see the light of day is a fair reflection of Senate action on the bill: There were lots of speeches and quorum calls and very little action.


New votes are bolded and italicized.



Manager’s Amendment: McCain #1974, as modified (2047 is a second degree) (Iranian dissidents); Murkowski #2030 (recreational activities); Vitter #1472 as modified (AbilityOne goods); Daines #1890 (basic allowances); Coats #1705 (Taiwan); Flake #1720 (transportation of families); Gardner #1708 (promotion of US interests); Enzi #1908 (small business procurement ombudsman); Paul #1678 (population); Hatch #1811 (sustainment enhancement); Fischer #1825 (Merchant Marine); King #2020 (disposal regs); Menendez #2050, with modification to the instruction line (Cyprus) ; Coons #1474 (National Guard State Partnership Program); Murphy #1901 (foreign procurements); Warren #1902 (problem gambling behavior); Blumenthal #1563 (e-health records); Durbin #1703 (PTSD training to Ukrainian military forces); Tester #1944, as modified (personnel security); Casey #1747 (security of Afghan women and girls); Schatz #2006 (next of kin travel policy); Leahy #1931 (National Guard Bureau); Ayotte #2011 (tunnels); Bennet #1916 (VA construction), June 18.

Final passage: bill approved 71-25.


Strykers: Portman (R-Ohio) amendment #1522 to authorize an additional $371 million to make the Army’s fleet of Stryker wheeled vehicles more lethal, work done in Ohio.  Approved 61-34, June 4.

VA Medical Facilities:  Bennet (D- Colo.) amendment #1540 to require a GAO report on major Veterans Affairs medical facility projects. Approved by voice vote, June 4.

Revise the Definition of Spouse for Veterans Benefits: Shaheen (D- N.H.) amendment #1494 to revise the definition of spouse so same-sex couples can receive veterans’ benefits. The amendment failed 53-42, required 60 for passage, June 4.

Stationing Modified C-130 aircraft: Tillis (R- N.C.) amendment #1506 to move modified C-130s from Little Rock to North Carolina. Approved 48-44, June 4.

Manager’s Amendment: Agreed to en bloc: Amendment #1618 (Shaheen: restrictions on transporting anthrax), 1539 (McCain, no payments for honoring members of the armed forces), 1551 (Shaheen: Travel Regulations), 1571 (Warner: Diversity in Military), 1484 (Hoeven: RQ-4 Global Hawk Mission), 1511 (Heller: report on privatizing defense commissary system)

Manager’s Amendment: Agreed to en bloc: Amendment #1485 (Hoeven: Importance of Nuclear Mission), 1510 (Heller/Casey: Electronic Health Records), 1520 (Rounds: Cyber Security), 1538 (Wicker: Merchant Marine Academy), 1579 (Ernst: Military Intelligence), 1622 (Moran: Cyber Capabilities of Air Force), 1791 (Rubio: Land Exchange), 1677 (Udall: Airborne Hazards), 1701 (Wyden: Retired Military Dogs), 1733 (Stabenow: Airfields for Homeland Security), 1739 (McCaskill: Whistleblower Retaliations), 1744 (Feinstein: Major Medical Facility Projects), 1781 (Heitkamp: Security in Arctic Region), 1796 (Cardin: Working Capital Fund Activities).

Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) Account:  Reed (D-R.I.) amendment #1521 to fence off the additional $38 billion in OCO funds added to the president’s budget request, unless the budget caps are increased for both defense and non-defense spending. The amendment, which required a majority to pass, failed by a 46-51 vote along party lines, June 9.

Export-Import Bank: Shelby (R-Ala.) motion to table the: Kirk (R-Ill.)- Heitkamp (D-ND) amendment #1986 authorizing a five-year renewal of the Export-Import Bank. Tabling motion failed 31-65, June 10.

Cybersecurity: Motion to invoke cloture to end debate on the Burr cybersecurity bill, amendment #1569 as modified, failed 56-40 with 60 votes needed, June 11. (Amendment was subsequently withdrawn)

Prohibition of Torture: McCain (R-Ariz.), Feinstein (D-Calif), Reed (D-R.I.), Collins (R-Maine) amendment #1889 to reaffirm the prohibition of torture. Approved 78-21, June 16.

Aid to Kurdistan: Ernst (R-Iowa) – Boxer (D-Calif.) – Graham (R-S.C.) amendment #1549 to provide defense equipment, services and training directly to the Kurdistan Regional Government, bypassing the Iraqi government. Both the Administration and the Iraqi government were vigorously opposed to this amendment as antithetical to a united Iraq. Vote of 54-45 vote in favor of amendment, with 60 votes required to pass, June 16.

Uniform code of military justice: Gillibrand (D-N.Y) – Paul (R-Ky.) – Cruz (R-Texas) amendment #1578 to take the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases outside the military chain of command. A similar Gillibrand amendment in 2014 received 55 votes for cloture, with 60 votes needed. Vote of 50-49 vote in favor of amendment, with 60 required votes to pass, June 16.

Cloture on the McCain substitute bill: Invoked 83-15, June 16.

Troop levels: Vitter (R-La.) amendment #1473 to require maintaining no fewer than 32 brigade combat teams. The amendment failed 26-73, June 16.



Nuclear weapons and missile defense

Nuclear Submarine Cost Estimate:  Markey (D-Mass.) amendment #1523 to require an updated cost estimate for the program to replace nuclear ballistic missile submarines.

Nuclear Modernization Cost Estimate:  Markey (D-Mass.) amendment #1524 to require a 25-year cost estimate for the U.S. nuclear modernization program.

Limits to Nuclear Cruise Missiles:  Markey (D-Mass.) amendment #1525 to prohibit funding for the development of a new air-launched nuclear cruise missile or the modernization of nuclear warhead for the missile.

Reduce Nuclear Expenditures:  Markey (D-Mass.) amendment #1526 to block or delay a host of nuclear weapons programs.

Air Force Nuclear Force: Hoeven (R-N.D.) amendment #1485 to express a sense of the Senate that the nuclear mission of the Air Force should be a top priority for the Air Force.

Nonproliferation Funding: Rubio (R-Fla.) amendments #1792 and #1862 to prohibit the nuclear nonproliferation funding to Russia until it has complied with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty, New START treaty, and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Nuclear Cooperation Agreements: Menendez (D-N.J.) amendment #1793 to provide Congress with oversight authority to any civilian nuclear cooperation agreement negotiated by the United States.

Long-Term Plan for Uranium Requirement: Portman (R-Ohio) amendment #1501 to require an estimate of the cost of downblending uranium.

Radiation exposure from atomic testing: Toomey (R-Pa.) amendment #1591 and #1909 to require a study of radiation exposure from atomic testing clean up at Enewetak Atoll.

Dismantlement of nuclear weapons: Cotton (R-Ark.) amendment #1605 to limit the dismantlement of retired nuclear weapons.

MEADS: Ayotte (R-N.H.)-Shaheen (D-N.H.) amendment #1611 to bar funding for the Medium Extended Air Defense System.

Missile Defense Technology to Russia: Kirk (R-Ill.) amendment #1758 to prohibit the transfer of missile defense technology to Russia until it complies with the INF treaty, withdraws troops from Ukraine and terminates its missile defense contract with Iran.

Israeli Cooperative Missile Defense: Graham (R-S.C.) amendment #2008 to provide $165 million to Israel for missile defense programs.

Aegis Ashore Missile Defense:  Ayotte (R-N.H.), Wicker, Inhofe, Fischer amendment #1567 to ensure the Aegis Ashore site in Romania and the site to be deployed in Poland are capable of defending against aerial threats, including cruise missiles.

Nuclear Missile Alert: Rubio (R-Fla.) amendment #1864 to prohibit the reduction in alert of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles force.


Conventional weapons, troop levels, and spending

Audit the Pentagon: Sanders (I-Vt.) amendment #1914 to improve the audit readiness of the Pentagon and #2041 to provide for an independent assessment of the Pentagon’s audit and financial management systems.

Defense Contracting Fraud: Sanders (I –Vt.) amendment #1770 and #2010 to require an annual report on defense contracting fraud.

Paying for War: Sanders (I–Vt.) amendment #1824 to require that all funds authorized for Overseas Contingency Operations be paid for with new revenue.

Employee Cost Saving Incentives: Paul (R- Ky.) amendment #1543 and #2026 to create incentives for federal employees to support cost saving efforts in federal spending.

CVN-80 Aircraft carrier: McCain (AR-Ariz) amendment #1461 and amendment #1462 to set a 90 day deadline for full shock trials for CVN-80 and USS Gerald Ford aircraft carriers.

Transfer Authority:  Paul (R-Ky.) amendment #1546 to provide transfer authority to the Secretary of Defense to mitigate the effects of sequestration of DOD.  

Littoral Combat Ship Capabilities Assessment:   McCain (R- Ariz.) amendment #1565 to require a capabilities assessment of the Littoral Combat Ship.

Littoral Combat Ship: Baldwin (D-Wis.) amendment #1946 to withhold 25% of allocations to the LCS program pending the completion of reports on its capabilities and modernization plan.

Troop levels: Vitter (R-La.) amendment #1473 to require maintaining no fewer than 32 brigade combat teams.

Troop levels: Blunt (R-Mo.) amendment #1635 to limit further reductions in U.S. troop levels.

Troop levels: Casey (D-Pa.) and Cornyn (R-Texas) amendment #2014 to establish a sense of Congress that there should be no further reductions to the number of brigade combat teams in the Army.

Aircraft carriers: Coats (R-Ind.) amendment #1621 to bar the retirement of any nuclear powered aircraft carrier before its first refueling.

UH-60 Black Hawk: Blumenthal (D- Conn.) and Murphy (D-Conn.) amendment #1820 to provide $247.5 million for UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the Army.

Foreign and energy policy

Iran Sanctions: Kirk (R- Ill.) and Menendez (D-N.J.) amendment #1710 to extend the Iran Sanctions Act until 2026.

Iran Sanction Relief: Kirk (R-Ill.) amendment #1759 to require a report on how Iran has used funds made available through sanction relief.

Iran Negotiations: Sessions (R-Ala.) amendment #1787 and #1891 to establish a sense of the Senate that nuclear negotiations with Iran should not continue without the establishment of a robust inspections and verification system including access to military facilities and scientists.

Strategy after Iran Nuclear Deal: Perdue (R-Ga.) amendment #1842 to require a strategy for responding to an increase in Iranian-sponsored terrorism, reassuring allies in the Middle East, and addressing a potential arms race in the event of an Iran Nuclear agreement.

Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative: Portman (R-Ohio) amendment #1850 to provide $300 million in assistance (including lethal aid) to Ukraine.

Use of Assistance against Assad Regime: Perdue (R–Ga.) and Cotton (R-Ark.) amendment #1841 to specify that aid provided to the vetted Syrian Opposition may be used in defense against the Assad Regime.

Support to Syrian Opposition: Perdue (R-Ga.) and Cotton (R-Ark.) amendment #1861 to give the Secretary of Defense authority to provide intelligence, logistics, defensive supporting fire, medical assistance, and other support considered appropriate to the vetted Syrian Opposition.

Department of State Authorization: Corker (R-Tenn.) and Cardin (D-Md.) amendments #1780, #1983 and #2033 to include the State Department authorization bill within the NDAA.

Death Penalty for Nuclear Terrorism: Grassley (R- Iowa) and Whitehouse (D-R.I.) amendment #1786 to include the death penalty as a punishment for acts of nuclear terrorism.

Energy Security: Cornyn (R-Texas) amendment #1486 to require a report on energy security issues involving Europe and the Russian Federation.

Report on Security Challenges: Portman (R-Ohio) amendment #1497 to require a report on the security challenges posed by Russia’s hybrid warfare tactics.

Kurdistan: Ernst (R-Iowa) amendment #1549 to provide for defense equipment, services and training to the Kurdistan Regional Government.

US-Israel Anti-Tunnel Cooperation: Ayotte (R-N.H.) and a bipartisan coalition of 15 co-sponsors amendment #2011 to establish techniques and technology with Israel to counter tunnel warfare.

Nuclear Competition between India and Pakistan:  McCain (R- Ariz.) amendment  #1465 to strike the mention of nuclear competition between India and Pakistan.

European Defense and NATO:  Sessions (R-Ala.) amendments #1566 and #1706 to urge NATO members to meet their commitments for spending 2% of the Gross Domestic Product on defense.

United Nations: Lee (R-Utah) amendment #1573 to require a report on U.S. contributions to the United Nations.

Ukraine: Ernst (R-Iowa) amendments #1580 and #1608 and McCain (R-Ariz.) #2000 to prohibit buying expendable launch vehicles from Russia as long as it continues its illegal activities in Ukraine.

Ukraine: Portman (R-Ohio) amendment #1657 to authorize $300 million in lethal military assistance to Ukraine.

Oil exports: Markey (D-Mass.) amendments #1603, #1604 and #1645 to limit the export of crude oil.

Ground Combat Troops in Iraq and Syria: Murphy (D-Conn.), Schatz (D-Hawaii), Udall (D-N.M.) , Blumenthal (D- Conn.) amendment #1870 to prohibit the deployment of ground combat troops in Iraq and Syria.

AUMF: Flake (R-Ariz.) and Kaine (D-Va.) amendment #1883 to express the findings that Congress should authorize the use of military force against ISIS.

AUMF: Merkley (D-Ore.) amendment #1647 to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.

AUMF: Cardin (D-Md.) amendment #1692 to sunset the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force within three years.

Defeating ISIL: Coats (R-Ind.) amendment #1925 to require the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan for defeating ISIL.



Whistleblower Protection: Boxer (D-Calif.) amendment #1799 to protect whistleblowers within the armed forces.

Guantanamo Bay: Inhofe (R-Okla.) amendment #1533 to bar the transfer and release of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the U.S.

Guantanamo Bay: Inhofe (R-Okla.) amendment #1534 to prohibit the temporary transfer of detainees to the U.S. for medical treatment.

Guantanamo Bay: Cruz (R-Texas) amendment #1724 to prohibit the transfer of individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay to countries covered by Dept. of State travel warnings.

Guantanamo Bay: Rubio (R-Fla.) amendment #1789 and #1936 to continue the leasing of the Guantanamo Bay facility.

Guantanamo Bay: Rubio (R-Fla.) amendment #1790 to prohibit the use of funds to close the Guantanamo Bay facility.

Inverted corporations: Durbin (D-Ill.) amendment #1559 to prohibited inverted corporations, American companies incorporated abroad to avoid taxes, from getting Pentagon contracts.

Detainment of Illegal Aliens: Sessions (R-Ala.) amendment #1919 to provide for the indefinite detainment of dangerous aliens during removal proceedings.

Asylum Reform and Border Protection: Sessions (R-Ala). amendments #1971 and #1972 on the question of asylum reform, border protection, repatriation of unaccompanied alien children and citizenship at birth.

Federal Reserve audit: Paul (R-Ky.) amendment #1542 to require a full audit of the Federal Reserve.

Abortions in military hospitals: Shaheen (D-N.H.) Murray, Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Boxer, Murphy amendment #1550 to permit Defense Department medical facilities to perform abortions.

Uniform code of military justice: Gillibrand (D-N.Y) and many others amendment #1578 to take the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases outside the military chain of command.

Sexual orientation: Murphy (D-Conn.) amendment #1584 to include sexual orientation as a protected category under the Pentagon equal opportunity program.

Sage grouse: Lee (R-Utah) and others amendment #1687 to remove the endangered special status for Sage Grouse, Lesser Prairie-Chicken and American Burying Beetle.