The Senate is scheduled to start debating its version of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell formally moved to set debate this week after Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) formally filed the legislation on Wednesday for floor action, according to a press release.
The House is expected to begin debating its version of the annual defense policy bill the week following its return from the Independence Day holiday recess.
The companion versions by the GOP-led Senate Armed Services Committee and Democrat-led Armed Services panel agree on many major issues, but critical differences are expected to create friction.
Key differences between the two bills include a significant gap on the overall level of defense spending and the use of DOD funds for the administration’s southern border barrier construction.
“I am concerned about the House and some of the differences that exist between our two committees,” Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senate Armed Services Chairman told CQ. “But that’s what conferences are for.”
The Senate bill would authorize $741.5 billion in discretionary defense spending, while the House version would reduce that level by nearly $17 billion to $724.9 billion. The significant spending differences on the fiscal 2020 defense spending could foreshadow contentious negotiations on the overall fiscal 2020 budget this summer.
The two NDAA versions also differ on other provisions including climate policy and the final makeup of the administration’s proposed space force.
The two versions vary on their approach to space force funding, but they agree on the general structure of a new space corps.
Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Tia Dufour