With Congress back in session, Armed Services Committee negotiators are aiming for quick approval of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act even as notable differences in the House and Senate versions have not been resolved, according to Defense News.
Armed Services committee staffers worked through the August recess resolving noncontroversial issues on the mandatory annual defense policy measure in hopes conferees can quickly settle more problematic policy differences, according to the report.
With just 13 congressional working days in September aides in both chambers said that leaders seek to draft a compromise conference report by Sept. 19, gain signatures by Sept. 23 and hold floor votes before the end of the month.
Congress hopes to continue the legislation’s 58-year streak of successful passage ahead of schedule. That streak may be tested with notable chamber differences, particularly around the flashpoint issue of border barrier funding.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said before the August recess that he believes many of the House bill’s border-related provisions would need to be removed in order to pass in the GOP-led Senate.
The House version includes provisions barring transfer of military construction funds toward the border barrier in the future, and does not include funds to replace those already spent. The Senate version includes replacement funding and does not restrict future funding transfers.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) last week criticized recent MilCon funding transfers as “stealing from military construction projects and upending years of planning and coordination in hopes that Congress would clean up the mess.”
Inhofe said he supports the decision, Defense News reported.