House lawmakers voted late Tuesday to convene a fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act conference committee with senators to reconcile major differences between the two chambers’ versions of the mandatory defense policy legislation, The Hill reported.
The Democrat-led House also rejected, 198-219, a Republican motion to instruct conference committee members to support replenishing funds for 127 military construction projects redirected by the White House for southern border barrier construction.
Republicans want to replenish the lost MilCon funding, but House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said the proposed motion was irrelevant since those construction funds are authorized every five years, according to the report.
House leaders also named their conferees late Tuesday, including 32 House Armed Services members as well as lawmakers from 14 other committees appointed to help negotiate specific provisions.
The House conference committee votes were the first official movement toward House-Senate negotiations on the NDAA, but lawmakers and staffers have been quietly meeting since both chambers passed their versions earlier this summer, the report said.
The so-called congressional “Big Four” including Smith, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) also met Tuesday with Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
“We discussed progress made along the priorities laid out in the National Defense Strategy, our current operational environment & commitment to continue working together on the FY20 NDAA,” Esper tweeted Tuesday.
DoD photo by Glenn Fawcett