Senate Armed Services Completes Markup of FY22 NDAA
The Senate Armed Services Committee completed work on its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill in closed session this week. No bill text is yet available, however, the committee released a 40 page summary of the bill. The bill would authorize the Pentagon to spend $740 billion in FY22, a boost of about $25 billion above the President’s request. The legislation, like the President’s budget request, does not include a separate Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request – any war-related costs are included in the base budget.
According to the summary, the bill authorizes $3.716 billion for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and restores the 2nd ship to the budget. The bill also authorizes $50 million for surface combatant industrial base stability initiatives, and “expresses continued support for a multi-ship procurement of amphibious warships and directs the Secretary of the Navy to provide a report on several potential acquisition strategies for such platforms.” Additionally, the legislation would prohibit the “early retirement of naval vessels unless the Secretary of the Navy makes certain certifications to Congress.”
The bill was advanced out of committee by a vote of 23-3. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.
House Tees Up Spending Bill Minibus Package
The House has added seven funding bills to the House floor schedule next week, meaning they’ll be ready for passage if Democratic leaders can whip enough support. The minibus includes the spending bills for Commerce-Justice-Science, State-Foreign Operations, Legislative Branch, Labor-HHS-Education, Agriculture-FDA, Energy-Water, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-VA, Transportation-HUD and Financial Services.
The House is not expected to vote this summer on the remaining two funding bills — Homeland Security and Defense — because the measures are controversial and would likely fail.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) privately warned Democrats during a meeting earlier Tuesday that voting against spending bills this year will effectively cede power to Senate Republicans in negotiations over funding the government for fiscal 2022.
On the other side of the Capitol, Senate appropriators have yet to schedule markups or release bill text of any of the 12 annual funding bills. But Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the chamber’s top Republican appropriator, said the Senate spending panel might mark up three of the bills before the scheduled August recess but that Defense appropriations would be delayed until September.
Infrastructure Vote Fails; Bipartisan Group Continues to Work on Deal
Senate Republicans blocked debate on a vast and still-unfinished infrastructure plan, rejecting Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s drive to forge ahead while negotiators from both parties struggle to complete details of the $579 billion package.
The 49-51 vote fell well shy of the 60 needed to begin debate. Schumer switched his vote to “no” so he can call up the bill again. Centrist Republicans involved in the negotiations said they need more time to hammer out the details. By early next week, they said, there should be enough votes to bring up the proposal.
“We have the number of Republicans necessary to succeed with the cloture vote on Monday or Tuesday,” GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said Wednesday before the Senate action. He said “almost everything” has been resolved in the talks, which have bogged down in discussions over how to pay for the legislation.
Schumer’s decision to force the early test vote Wednesday afternoon spurred a faster pace in protracted talks, which began almost a month ago when a group of 22 senators involved in negotiations announced agreement with President Joe Biden on the general outlines of the plan. A deal would mark a significant breakthrough in the drive for a massive infusion of money for roads, bridges and other critical projects like expanded broadband Internet service and improvements to power grids.
Biden, appearing at a union electrical training center in Cincinnati, Ohio, was asked if he’ll get an infrastructure deal. “Yes, we will” Biden said Wednesday. Still, any negotiated package faces significant hurdles in both chambers.
In the Senate, with its 50-50 partisan split, the deal may not go far enough to gain support of all Democrats, who have narrow control of the chamber, and it will need 60 votes to get past any filibuster by opponents. Just 11 GOP senators aided the negotiations and agreed on its framework.