NDAA still possible, but time is ticking away
Published: December 21, 2010
WASHINGTON — House and Senate lawmakers will have to reach an agreement on a continuing resolution by midnight tonight to keep the government running into next year. But Senate officials said they’re frantically working behind the scenes to also fit in a final vote on the annual defense authorization bill before the Christmas break.
Congress hasn’t failed to pass a defense authorization bill, which contains guidelines for defense spending next year and a host of personnel policy changes, in the last 58 years. The House easily passed a stripped-down version of the measure last week, without the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal which had stalled the bill for much of the year.
The $725 billion budget measure (simplified, it still runs more than 900 pages) was put together in part by Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., which suggests the measure should enjoy bipartisan support if brought up for a vote.
But with the new START negotiations dragging and a host of nominations to confirm before year’s end, lawmakers simply may not have enough hours left to fit in the massive defense bill.
For now, no time for a vote has been set, but Senate officials say that could change in coming hours.
If it becomes law, the bill would authorize a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops starting next month, extend Tricare coverage for military dependents to age 26, create a counter-IED database to assist with troop-protection efforts, and direct the development of better lightweight body armor for ground forces, among other provisions.