Washington, D.C. — The Senate on Monday easily passed its fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, 85-10, setting up negotiations with the House to reconcile their competing versions of the policy measure. The legislation would authorize $708.1 billion in discretionary spending, including $69 billion for the overseas contingency operations account. One key difference between the two versions is the reform proposal in the House version, H.R 5515, which directs spending by defense agencies and field activities on civilian resources management, logistics management, services contracting and real estate management to drop by 25 percent by Jan. 1, 2021. The Senate bill does not contain similar language.
Another discrepancy that will need to be ironed out is language in the Senate version reinstating a seven-year ban on U.S. export sales to Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE. Several Republican senators are scheduled to meet with President Trump on Wednesday to discuss his opposition to the provision, which conflicts with the administration’s decision to replace the ban with other penalties, reports CQ.
Neither the timing nor the outcome of the vote came as a surprise to attendees at the Defense Communities National Summit, as keynote speaker Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) told the audience Monday afternoon that the chamber would clear the legislation within 20 minutes after he walked off the stage. “This is a major step forward,” said Inhofe, who managed the bill on the floor in the absence of Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Photo by David Gleason