Senate Ends Debate on Defense-Spending Bill

           WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate ended debate Tuesday on a military-spending bill that President Barack Obama has vowed to veto for skirting budget caps.
     Circumventing limits that the Budget Control Act placed on defense and domestic spending, the National Defense Authorization Act redirects $38 billion meant for the military budget to the uncapped Oversees Contingency Operations account.
     Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., called the proposed legislation a “budgetary sleight of hand.”
     “This budget gimmick allows the majority to fully fund the Defense Department without breaking caps imposed by the BCA on both defense and non-defense spending,” Reed said in a floor speech Tuesday.
     The NDAA would authorize spending on the Department of Defense’s military activities, as well as military construction and other national-security programs, but Reed warned that the redirected funds leave the country less capable to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
     Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Claire McCaskill of Missouri were among 21 Democrats who joined Republicans in ending debate on the conference report Tuesday via a cloture vote of 73-26.
     Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to vote against the cloture motion.
     Though Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he opposed the unbalanced spending bill, he insisted his vote against the NDAA was not a Democratic slap at armed services.
     “Both sides care about the military, but there are other parts of our government that are important as well,” Durbin said on the floor shortly before the vote.
     Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., meanwhile said that the fight over the specific method of funding belongs in the appropriations process, not in the authorization of funding that he said would increase military pay and make health care and other necessities more accessible to military members.
     “To do this kind of disservice to the men and women who are serving in uniform is a disgrace,” McCain said in a speech just before the vote. “Please don’t say that you support the men and women in the military, come to this floor and say that, and then vote against this legislation.”
     Emphasizing that one year of hearings and research went into the bill, McCain called the president’s opposition to the authorization “shameful” and “nonsensical.”
     “It’s become unfortunately clear that the president of the United States is more concerned about a budgetary issue and an appropriations and funding issue than he is about the welfare and benefit of the men and women who serve this country and their ability to defend it,” McCain told reporters.

%d bloggers like this: