Jan. 8, 2014
WASHINGTON — Seven weeks after a fight over Republican amendments nearly ended a five-decade streak of passing a national defense authorization act (NDAA), the battle is still raging and shows no signs of receding.
The upper chamber on Nov. 21 killed the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the 2014 NDAA on a chaotic day in which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., altered filibuster rules and rejected new GOP amendments. Reid and senior Democrats decided which NDAA amendments from both parties would get a floor debate and vote. The committee’s Democratic chairman, Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, and top Republican, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, agreed to dozens of amendments as floor debate began.
But in a version of events told then by Levin and never since discounted by Inhofe aides, Republicans on the morning of Nov. 21 wanted debates and votes on nearly two dozen amendments Levin and Reid had not seen as they were setting up the NDAA floor process. They rejected them, and Republicans blocked a procedural move to a final vote before Thanksgiving. Another version of the Pentagon policy bill eventually passed about a month later, but congressional sources and analysts warn the amendments flap might sink the next version of the NDAA, which perennially features controversial amendments. ...