Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY) has blocked a motion by majority leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) to advance the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the massive military spending bill, saying that the bill should instead face debate and possible amendments.
This sets the bill back for 6 weeks, at least.
In particular, Sen. Paul is seeking two amendments, one which ends NDAA authorization for indefinite detention of suspects, and another related to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), something that was added to the House version but later quietly removed by the Speaker.
Paul’s protest is expected to delay the NDAA vote through at least the August recess, meaning a vote is unlikely until September. While this gives plenty of time for amendments to be debated, it’s not clear the Senate leadership will allow that no matter how much time they’re given.
Indeed, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) was critical of any delay on any grounds, insisting the bill and its huge spending increase are a “solemn obligation” for the Senate to pass without delay.
"It is unfortunate that one senator chose to block consideration of a bill our nation needs right now," McCain said in a statement.
"We must uphold our solemn obligation to provide for the common defense and give our men and women in uniform the training, equipment, and resources they need to defend the nation. Our brave service members — many now serving in harm's way — deserve nothing less."
Other Senators have repeatedly been angry with Sen. Paul for not getting their way on bills, but the military spending bill is such a large one it’s likely to be particularly unpopular to debate, as quietly slipping it through is the way these things usually go.