November 30, 2012
Credit: Credit: Architect of the Capitol
The Senate did not close out action on the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill in three days as had been anticipated, instead shooting for an agreement to wrap up work early next week.
As floor work continues, senators are already looking toward resolving the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Here’s a look at some of the outstanding issues:
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) had planned to submit an amendment regarding export controls on commercial satellites, but instead will let the issue be handled during negotiations between the leaders of the House and Senate armed services committees to resolve differences between the two versions. “I think it’s going to be included in the conference,” Bennet says.
The matter is a top priority for Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. Smith drafted an initial provision in the House bill that removes commercial satellite exports from International Traffic in Arms Regulations and deals with congressional notification requirements for more broadly altering the U.S. Munitions List. The Obama administration objects to the new notification requirements; it remains to be seen whether or not those remain in the bill’s final version.
The Senate did not pass an amendment by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) that sought to strike language in the bill that would cut by at least 5% the Pentagon’s civilian and contractor workforce through fiscal 2017, but the amendment failed to pass.
Cardin remains hopeful that the language will be removed during conference.
“The way the Senate has worded this, it would be a real hardship. It’s a cap,” Cardin says. “It would be a second form of sequestration.”
The White House also opposes the initial provision, but its original author is Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and therefore one of the “Big Four” final negotiators on the conference committee.