The push back on defense law votes continues to narrow the window for Senate and House Force Committee leaders to iron out a compromise and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk before the end of the year.
“The Democrats have been working in good faith for several days, actually for several months, to pass this defense law,” Schumer complained on Thursday. “Members on both sides want to achieve this, so these delays are regrettable. There is no good reason to hesitate any longer. We should move the process forward.”
After days of fighting over which amendments would receive votes or be included in a bipartisan managerial package, Senate Forces Chairman Jack Reed (DR.I.) sought votes for 19 amendments from Democrats and Republicans on Thursday evening.
But seven Republicans took turns blocking votes because their amendments were not included – some with little defense policy.
Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, moved a vote on his efforts to block the Pentagon’s enforcement of Biden’s vaccine mandate for defense contractors. Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) want to vote on their measure to impose sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) And James Lankford (R-Okla.) Both want to force votes on separate immigration and border wall measures. And Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) Called for a vote on his measure to ban the import of goods made by forced labor by the Muslim Uyghur minority in China.
Reed, who admitted that some of these debates were “meritorious,” criticized the objection senators for thwarting the wider series of votes and advances in military policy.
“We will send a very powerful message to the men and women in the armed forces that we are not behind them,” if the law is not passed, warned Reed. “We’re too busy arguing about issues at the border and Nord Stream and other issues.”
Democratic and Republican leaders must settle the dispute after the Thanksgiving break. Any single Senator can object to voting or speeding up the process in plenary, so it is possible that no Senators will vote on their amendments if the impasse is not resolved.
Defense law pushed forward during a quiet session on Friday. The Senate quickly approved a procedural motion to finally begin the debate on the bill. Reed later moved a procedural motion to abandon the debate and take the final votes after Thanksgiving, with or without an agreement on changes.
The senators managed to incorporate some undisputed changes into the legislation on Friday. Reed attacked a package of 58 bipartisan amendments, including a move to set up an independent commission to investigate all US engagement in Afghanistan after the military withdrawal and the Taliban takeover.
Still, a wide range of policy proposals have been sunk by the dust, including changes to cut the defense budget, curb the president’s war powers, and disable parts of the coronavirus vaccine mandate.
The now deferred list of 19 amendments included a proposal from Senate Budget Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) To reverse the $ 25 billion increase in Biden’s defense proposal that the Armed Forces Committee approved this summer.
A bipartisan push to revoke the 2002 Iraq war permit offered by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine and Indiana Republican Todd Young has also been put on hold. Efforts are also a top priority for Schumer, who has pledged to hold a vote this year to curb the decades-old war power laws.
Senate leaders were also prepared to give Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo) a vote on his amendment to remove a provision in the Defense Act that requires women to register for military service. The extension was included in the House of Representatives Defense Bill and would almost certainly become law if it survived the Senate.
The dispute also sparked a vote on an amendment by Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) Requiring that troops booted from the ranks for refusing the coronavirus vaccine receive honorable layoffs.
The setback ends a week of frustration for supporters of the legislation. Republicans and Democrats quarreled over Schumer’s attempt to incorporate US-China competition law into defense law. Procedural votes were delayed amid the dispute before Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California, agreed to negotiate separately on Chinese legislation.
Now is the time for the House and Senate to work out a compromise version of the Defense Act, which has passed into law every year for six decades.
For members of both parties, it is positive evidence that Schumer – who largely avoided dumping large bills on the floor while the Senate waited for the House of Representatives to approve Biden and Democrats’ 1.75 trillion welfare spending package US dollar passed – the defense debate should have opened much sooner.
House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) Has sharply criticized Schumer for failing to act. Legislators are now weighing alternative methods to ensure the bill goes into effect when time is short.
Senior Republican Senate Armed Forces Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma lamented the impasse Thursday night, but ultimately accused Schumer of failing to respond to the defense law sooner.
“I was disappointed … that we had to waste a lot of time,” Inhofe said of the blockade.
“The leader of the Democrats did not allow us to do this. We had no choice,” Inhofe said. “As Republicans, we had no choice and we agree that we want to start earlier. As a result, many Democrats and Republicans have lost their chance to be heard and consider amendments.”