Owing to its preoccupation with the situation in Syria and the impending “shutdown” of the government, it appears that Congress won’t turn its attention to passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 until later in the year. That may be a very good thing.
A story published in The Hill reports that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Wednesday that this year’s iteration of the defense spending bill will probably not come up before the current fiscal year ends on September 30. “It’ll be another cliffhanger, probably,” Levin said, as reported by The Hill. “It will probably end up closer to the end of the session than I’d like.”
Although for over half a century the NDAA has been the vehicle for doling out the hundreds of millions of dollars in the Defense Department budget, the last few versions of the bill have created controversy over the significant attacks on fundamental freedoms contained in key provisions.
While the future of the measure in the Senate remains up in the air, the House of Representatives passed the bill on June 14 by a vote of 315-108.
Several amendments to the defense spending legislation were proposed, many of which were approved either by voice vote or en bloc. The first method of voting requires no report on how individual members voted, while the second method aggregates amendments, allowing them to be voted on in groups.
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.
While the 2014 iteration doesn’t go far enough in pushing the federal beast back inside its constitutional cage, there are at least a few congressmen willing to try to crack the whip and restore constitutional separation of powers and shore up a few of the fundamental liberties suspended by the NDAA of the past two years.
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Photo is of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner being escorted.