Senate Impasse Prevents Defense Bill Deal Before Thanksgiving

Senate Impasse Prevents Defense Bill Deal Before Thanksgiving The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The dome of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 19 November 2021 08:00 AM

Senate Armed Services Committee Republicans seeking amendments to a defense bill blocked a Thursday night vote that likely will be pushed until after the Thanksgiving recess.

Seven GOP senators – seeking updates related to the border wall, the Nord Stream pipeline and the repeal of vaccine requirements for Defense Department contractors — blocked the deal unless their changes were added to the legislation, The Hill reported.

The Senate on Wednesday voted to get the defense bill over an initial obstacle but has not started debate on it and hasn't been able to vote on any amendments. A total of 18 amendments were proposed, with some from members of both major parties.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., sought a vote on his amendment to strip language out of the bill that requires women to sign up for the selective service. Another vote was about whether or not to add a repeal of the 2002 Iraq War authorization into the legislation.

"We just proposed votes on 18 amendments, 3 of which are bipartisan and 8 of which are Republican-led amendments," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, The Hill reported.

"We could start voting on them tonight. But, unfortunately, the other side won’t agree. Or some on the other side won’t agree."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., earlier Thursday suggested the GOP had several priorities, including lethal support for Ukraine and proposals related to the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan, voted on, The Hill said.

"I'm glad we will finally be able to have these debates and these votes. America needs a course correction and the Senate needs to supply it," McConnell said.

It was unclear what will happen to the votes on the amendment package, which leadership had hoped to finalize before leaving for the Thanksgiving recess.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the majority whip, suggested that votes on potential amendments to the defense bill could be over.

"Well, they just tossed out the package," Durbin said.

Members leaving the Senate floor after the stalemate Thursday night told The Hill that they didn't expect another roll call vote until after the week-long holiday break.

The Senate planned to return into session Friday morning, though Sens. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Tom Carper, D-Del., both told The Hill as they were leaving town.

They added the Senate was expected just to agree to start debate on the defense bill with a voice vote on Friday.

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