A House and Senate conference committee to negotiate a compromise fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is scheduled to begin this week with the House voting Tuesday to begin negotiations with the Senate, and an initial meeting of conferees is expected to take place on Thursday.
After NDAA conference negotiations were delayed a week, it has threatened hopes for quick passage of the mandatory annual defense policy legislation before the end of fiscal 2019.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Monday the panel is preparing a “skeleton” fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure service members will be paid if the two congressional armed services committees can’t resolve differences, Defense News reported.
“There’s a fear by some people that it might not work out, so we’d be looking at what some people refer to as a the ‘skeleton bill,’” Inhofe said.
Sources knowledgeable with drafting a stripped down NDAA agree any revised measure would include pay and bonuses for service members, which Inhofe confirmed, according to the report.
“We could pass a bill that only had the necessary things in it, that it pays the kids. There’s a list of things that have to be done,” Inhofe said.
House and Senate Armed Services Committee lawmakers planned to begin reconciling their bills, which diverge on a number of key issues, reflecting the partisan divide between the chambers. The NDAA holds a 58-year streak of successful passage into law.
SASC Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), has expressed the bill should contain a host of other authorizations that are necessary, beyond pay alone, according to the report.
“It’s also important to make sure they have the platforms, support and training they need, which all requires an NDAA that’s substantial,” Reed said.
Here are the House and Senate versions for reference.
DOD photo by Army Sgt. James McCann