Senate breaks logjam over defense spending plan

After a week of partisan wrangling over supplemental spending on the fiscal 2002 Defense appropriations bill, the Senate was poised Friday afternoon to break the logjam, after Republicans defeated a measure proposed by Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., on a budget point of order.

That again demonstrated Democrats lacked the 60 votes to add another $15 billion to the $317 billion Defense spending bill. The measure also is carrying $20 billion in previously approved supplemental funds.

After the vote, Byrd huddled with Democratic leaders, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D- Hawaii, and Appropriations ranking member Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, to draft a new version of the bill that stays within the President's price tag. That bill was expected to be submitted later today.

Earlier today, Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., conceded, "We have to face reality here." Majority Whip Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the slimmed-down version of the bill "will come up, we just don't know when," but Senate sources were hopeful that a final, signable bill would fall into place by day's end.

Asked whether Byrd was now willing to relent in his quest to pump up the $20 billion supplemental title by another $15 billion, Reid said, "He's fine."

Republicans had planned to offer a substitute by Stevens that dropped Byrd's extra $15 billion and reshuffled the $20 billion anti-terrorism supplemental title to include some of Byrd's priorities.

But instead, Republicans ratcheted up the pressure and took aim at the entire bill. Saying, "Often to get on the right road, you have to get off the wrong road," Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, today raised a budget point of order against the committee measure for violating the so-called "302(b)" allocation for the Defense bill.

On a 50-50 vote, Democrats failed to muster the 60 votes to waive the point of order, as Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin again was the only Democrat to cross party lines.

Byrd had sought to add a second supplemental title of $15 billion, which would have provided $7.5 billion in further homeland security funds and $7.5 billion in additional aid for New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, where the four planes hijacked Sept. 11 crashed. Republicans Thursday stripped the emergency designation from the $15 billion but left the money in place.

Imploring Republican senators to vote their conscience and not the party line dictated by the President before today's decisive vote, Byrd declared: "I do believe in this constitutional oath, and I am not appointed by any President... No President will tell me how to vote [and] that ought to be the attitude of every senator."

Little information was available early Friday afternoon about how Democrats will reconstitute the $20 billion supplemental title, although Daschle said, "Our amendment will be similar [to what Stevens had offered Thursday], but improved."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.