Levin floor statement on bringing NDAA to the Senate floor

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today delivered the following statement on the Senate floor during a colloquy with the committee Ranking Member Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.:

“Before the Memorial Day recess, the Armed Services Committee voted 25-1 to favorably report S2410, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The bill is on the calendar. Both it and the committee report have been filed and are available online and in print. As the chairman and ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Inhofe, and I hope to bring the bill to the Senate floor as soon as the Senate schedule allows. I have talked to the Majority Leader about it. He says he is going to do his best, that there is a number of things that we can do to be helpful in this effort.

“Now, neither of us want to be in the position that we were in last year. Senators were unable to take up the bill and vote on any amendments to this important legislation because of how close it was to the end of the session when it was brought up. We urged senators, both, on the floor today are urging senators who are considering amendments to our bill to file them before the July recess. We would then be in a position, both of us, with our staffs to work with senators to clear as many amendments as possible for inclusion in a manager’s package and to begin identifying relevant amendments that would be likely to be contested.

“Now, we believe if we can develop a list of a few relevant amendments that would require votes to start with when we first take up the bill, that it would help us in getting to the floor. I believe that's the case given the circumstances that the Senate is in. We have an awful lot of work ahead of us. We don't have a long time to do it. And if we would be able to put together a proposal to the leaders that we have not only the bill, which is on -- obviously on the calendar that we've worked on a bipartisan basis to pass with a 25-vote majority, just minus one vote in the Senate, it would be our belief that this would have appeal to our leaders.

“And so we think this approach would enable us to reach unanimous consent as to an initial set of relevant amendments to be considered so that we could then move forward expeditiously when the Senate turns to the bill. I hope our colleagues will help us in this matter. I think it's in everybody's interest, it's in the national security interest that we have a bill before us.

“We have to pass a bill in order to go to conference with the house or else we're put in the same kind of position we were in last year, where we just simply present what amounted to a conference report before a bill had ever been really debated in the Senate. We and our staff, working with colleagues, put together what amounted to a conference report which was not a conference report in technical terms but was in effect the work product of both the Senate and the House and our committees by the process of negotiation. So our colleagues can be very helpful in getting this bill to the floor, meeting the concerns of our nation, doing what we should be doing for our troops and our families. And I yield the floor.”