Senate Stalls on NDAA 2014; 507 Amendments Offered

By:  Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
Senate Stalls on NDAA 2014; 507 Amendments Offered

As part of the fallout of Senator Reid’s detonation of the “nuclear option,” on Thursday the Senate failed to close debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014.

Senators voted 51-44 to keep debate open on the controversial Defense Department budget.

“We must pass a National Defense Authorization bill,” demanded Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If we fail to do so, we will be letting down our men and women in uniform. … If we fail to act, they will not get their full pay.”

The Pentagon budget has ballooned to over $625 billion for next year.

An article in The Hill reported that Senate Republicans “have complained that there have been only two amendment votes — both of which failed — on the legislation.”

Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) insist that the body be allowed to debate a full slate of amendments, but Harry Reid has thus far refused to allow senators to consider more than a couple of amendments.

"We used to have a practice of allowing votes on amendments — I know that's an outrageous demand on our part," McCain said, as quoted in The Hill. "If we can't have amendments on legislation, which is better: bad legislation or no legislation?”

When it comes to the NDAA, no legislation may be the better option.

The amendment process went a bit more smoothly in the other chamber, but there were a couple of alterations that sadly were rejected by lawmakers in the House.

On June 14, by a vote of 315-108, the House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2014 version of the NDAA (HR 1960). Several amendments to the defense spending legislation were proposed, many of which were approved either by voice vote or en bloc. 

A few of the amendments represent significant improvements to the NDAA of 2012 and 2013. The acts passed for those years infamously permitted the president to deploy U.S. military troops to apprehend and indefinitely detain any American he alone believed to be aiding enemies of the state.

As constitutionalists and civil libertarians are aware, recent occupants of the Oval Office have usurped sweeping unconstitutional powers, including the authority to target Americans for indefinite detention, to withhold from them rights that have been recognized as unalienable since before the Magna Carta, and to kill American citizens who have been charged with no crime and been given no opportunity to defend themselves from the accusations that qualified them for summary assassination.

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