The Defense Bill hits the Ground in a Stumble

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It’s a busy week for movement on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with the House version set to hit the floor and the Senate Armed Services Committee starting markups on its version.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is moving forward with its annual defense authorization bill with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) undergoing treatment to battle brain cancer 2,200 miles away in Arizona.

McCain for the last several years has been the major force behind crafting the NDAA and moving it through committee, the rest of the Senate and negotiations with the House.

His convictions on curtailing program overruns and eliminating wasteful spending have earned him a reputation as a force to be reckoned with among Pentagon officials and defense contractors.

As the committee now takes up this year’s NDAA, his absence has been felt, according to lawmakers.

“It’s a challenge simply because it’s a little bit different having the chairman physically removed,” the committee’s ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said of the bill’s process.

“[McCain is] someone with such great experience and expertise. He is participating through his staff and as a result he’s been able to provide, as he used to do, direction.”

The House Rules Committee is in the midst of a meeting to set up floor debate on the NDAA (along with two other bills).

It’s set to meet again Tuesday afternoon to decide which of the hundreds of amendments will make it to a floor vote.

As of 5:30 p.m., 571 amendments have been filed on the bill. Follow along at the Rules Committee website.

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