NDAA Advances in Senate

The Senate voted Tuesday to end discussion on the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, moving the bill one step closer to a final vote. President Obama has vowed to veto the legislation, and Democrats on Tuesday said that while they do care about the military, at issue is the larger budget question of how to fund the government. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the assistant minority leader, said the NDAA compromise includes about $38 billion of “made-up money” in the overseas contingency operations fund in an attempt to circumvent budget caps, but it cuts funding for other parts of the government, such as medical research at the National Institutes of Health and resources for the US Department of Veterans Affairs. “We want to give our troops the very best treatment, but we certainly don’t want to shortchange the other side of government,” Durbin argued on the Senate floor before the cloture vote. But Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the bill “has nothing to do with the appropriations process.” Democrats want to block the bill “because they don’t like the way it’s funded,” McCain said, speaking after Durbin. “The fight is on the appropriations, my friends, not on the authorization that defends this nation.” The House passed the compromise version of the NDAA on Oct. 1.