The annual defense authorization bill will be on the Senate floor next week, but only for some procedural moves to set up a full debate on the measure in November.
Last month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced plans to interrupt the Senate’s presumed October break to start work on the authorization bill, which sets policy priorities for defense spending in fiscal 2023.
The legislation — which includes a host of pay authorizations and new program starts — is considered a must-pass measure by lawmakers each year and has advanced out of Congress for more than 60 years.
In July, House lawmakers advanced plans for an $840 billion authorization bill that included spending plans above the White House’s budget request to cover inflation costs, new equipment purchases and additional support for Ukraine.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in July also backed a similar spending target in their NDAA draft. That measure will be brought before the full Senate on Tuesday.
But only a few senators are expected to be in the chamber when that happens.
Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., and ranking member Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., are expected to make several non-controversial procedural moves to formally start floor work on the legislation, but delay other proceedings until after the November election.
Work in Congress on the authorization bill thus far has avoided some of the problematic controversies of past years.
While total defense spending has been a point of debate between Republicans and Democrats, the fiscal 2023 proposal does not include major defense policy changes such as base name changes or an overhaul of the military justice system — two contentious issues that were included in recent authorization bills.
But the measure still remained stalled behind other legislative priorities in recent months. Committee officials are hopeful that the Senate can move quickly on advancing the measure in mid-November, and negotiations between House and Senate lawmakers on the separate drafts can be completed in early December.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.