Top Armed Services leaders in both houses of Congress are considering passing a slimmed-down National Defense Authorization Act that defers controversial measures for the sake of getting something passed, our colleague Connor O’Brien writes.
“It’s amounted to a backup plan,” House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told POLITICO, referring to the “skinny NDAA.” “It’s amounted to, we’re going to keep working on the bill itself, try to get resolved the top drawer issue of the [border] wall and we’ll have this as a backup discussion if necessary. I don’t have a problem with that.”
CHECKING TRUMP: More than 40 advocacy groups are out with a letter calling on lawmakers to oppose a final defense bill that doesn’t include the “core progressive priorities” aimed at constraining the Trump administration in the House-passed bill. That includes provisions to limit Trump’s Iran war powers, end U.S. support to the Saudi-UAE coalition in Yemen, bar new detainees at Guantanamo Bay, protect transgender troops and block deployment of new low-yield nuclear warheads.
The skinny bill would include only provisions that must be enacted by year’s end, and wouldn’t include measures such as a block on Trump funneling military construction money toward the border wall. The House version has limits, the Senate version doesn’t. That difference has proved to be the chief stumbling block in negotiations.
“The wall is the sticking point,” Smith said. “By a mile. Not even close.”
But will House Dems go for it? “If we do not in any way restrict the president’s ability to use emergency funds, he has almost an unlimited ability. He could take as much money out of milcon as he wants to take,” Smith said. “I tend to think that my leadership is going to have a little bit of heartburn about allowing that to happen.”