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Washington D.C. - The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] that passed the House in May, is stuck in the Senate, where partisan fighting has brought many key bills to a grinding halt.
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Partisan tensions spilled out onto the Senate floor as Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell engaged in 45-minutes of bitter and public election-year acrimony, each accusing the other of holding up their bills.
McConnell accused Reid of holding up annual spending bills and the 2013 Defense Authorization Bill that ‘green lights’ future build-up spending and sets conditions for realignment.
McConnell: “It’s pretty obvious, here, the reason the Senate is so inactive is because the Majority Leader doesn't want to take up any serious bills that are important to the future of the country. He mentioned cybersecurity, why isn’t it on the floor? Defense authorization, why isn't it on the floor?”
Reid shot back that Republicans are holding up a Democrat jobs bill and have delayed many others. The Majority Leader says he’s putting DoD reauthorization on the ‘back-burner’ for now.
Reid: “You don’t have to have a briefing by General Petraeus to understand how important it is to do something about cybersecurity. There are people out there making threats on this country every day, and we’ve been fortunate, being able to stop a number of them. and so, we’re going to have to get to cybersecurity, before we get to the defense authorization bill.”
Reid acknowledged that Armed Services Chair Carl Levin and ranking Republican John McCain were pressing hard for their bill’s passage. Still, he blamed Republicans for the legislative quagmire and abusing Senate rules to stop bills.
McConnell shot back: “I would say to my good friend, the Majority Leader, we don’t have a rules problem, we have an attitude problem.”
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s office says the Pentagon still needs to deliver the “independent assessment” of the Guam realignment and not having the authorization bill could “buy some time.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was expected to transmit that to Congress any day.
Separately, the House this week is expected to pass the Fiscal ’13 defense spending bill that includes more than $139-million for Guam civilian infrastructure projects and prohibits retiring the global hawk block 30 program, key for Andersen Air Force Base.
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