Senators: US allies concerned Senate won't pass annual defense bill


A bipartisan group of senators said on Saturday that U.S. allies were worried lawmakers would not be able to pass its annual defense policy bill before the end of the year for the first time in decades, Politico reported.

The senators, who were attending the Halifax International Security Forum, voiced their concerns over the upper chamber’s delay in taking up the National Defense Authorization Act.

“Normally, NDAA has been passed by the Senate [by now],” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said, according to Politico. “There were a lot of us … who asked the majority leader to bring it up earlier so we have time.”

“We are teaching not just Americans but the world whether or not our democracy can solve real and pressing problems,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said, according to Politico. “And there are consequences for our security and our standing in the world if we can’t pass the NDAA and [pass an appropriations bill] this year.”

However, those senators pledged they would pass the legislation before 2022. 

Earlier this week, the Senate voted 84-15 to advance its annual defense policy bill to start debate on the floor. 

Competing proposals held the bill up in the House despite the fact that it was earlier approved in the Senate with bipartisan support. Senators’ haggling over certain provisions, including competitive legislation on China, held the bill up again.

Democrats are seeking to pass the bill when they return from the weeklong Thanksgiving break, though it remains unclear when and how they will reach a deal. Congress has six more weeks before 2021 comes to a close.

Negotiations over the bill come as Senate Democrats are juggling a separate priority as they seek to take up a massive social spending and climate bill right after the break.

Democrats are likely under pressure to pass it before the end of the year in an effort to deliver a win for the party and the Biden administration, which has received increasingly low approval ratings in recent weeks.

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