Skip to comments.Will the 110th Congress Pass Critical Defense Bills?
Posted on 09/15/2008 3:52:21 PM PDT by Mr. Binnacle
Last week, AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., urged congressional leaders to move quickly on the fiscal 2009 Defense Authorization and Appropriations Bills.
In a letter to the House and Senate leadership, Gen. Sullivan said, Our ability to win the Global War on Terrorism and sustain the all volunteer force is dependent upon timely defense authorizations and appropriations. The bills must meet the Armys baseline budget and fund the war. I stress the necessity of getting the bills to the president for signature before September 30, the end of the fiscal year. While the House finished its version of the authorization bill in May, debate in the Senate only started last week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed cloture to end debate on the measure Friday afternoon. The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday afternoon on the cloture motion, which requires 60 votes to pass.
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said he believes GOP momentum is mounting to pass the bill. Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. agreed and said he is optimistic the agreement can be reached and time will be set aside to vote Tuesday on controversial amendments prior to the cloture vote.
However, is a vote tomorrow afternoon possible considering there are still 234 amendments remaining for debate? And what about the defense appropriations bill? Senate Defense appropriators approved a $487.7 billion Pentagon spending bill last week. However, the critical legislation is currently in a holding pattern in the House because the House Appropriations Committee canceled a markup of the Defense bill last week and has not set a new date.
It is unclear when the full Appropriations committees in the House and Senate will take up the bill since Congress has indicated that it will turn to energy legislation later this week and the continuing resolution and a second economic stimulus package next week.
There are only two options either the bill will be included in the continuing resolution or Congress will return for a lame-duck session near the end of the year. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., continue to insist that a lame-duck session is not in their plans, other leaders from both sides of the aisle are starting to talk about the need for a post-election session. In any event, the fact that we are nearing the end of the fiscal year and these two critical bills have not been passed in a time when we are at war is inexcusable.