Maine Senator Pushes to Move Defense Spending Bill

Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) formally offered an amendment on the Senate floor Thursday to fund DOD for the remainder of fiscal 2011. The amendment is identical to the FY 2011 defense spending bill included in the full-year spending package the House passed Feb. 19, H.R. 1.

A full-year defense spending bill is critical, according to top Pentagon officials. If DOD is forced to operate on a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year, it would receive $23 billion less than the $549 billion the department requested for FY 2011.

Collins’ amendment may not receive a vote on the Senate floor, however. Senate leaders have scheduled a March 7 vote to limit debate on the patent reform legislation to which Collins attached her amendment. If that vote passes, consideration of unrelated amendments would be ended. On Wednesday, Collins told CQ Today she does not expect any support from Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

In her remarks in the Senate Thursday, Collins summarized recent statements made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates warning about the danger in failing to pass a full-year defense spending bill.

“Surely, we should turn our attention to focus on the needs of our military immediately and we should heed the warning of Secretary Gates who said, ‘That is how you hollow out a military — when your best people, your veterans of multiple combat operations become frustrated and demoralized and, as a result, begin leaving military service.'”


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