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Defense Bill Conferees Meet; Hope Bill Ready By Weekend

Posted by Colin Clark on

CAPITOL HILL: The House named its conferees to handle negotiations over H.R. 1540, as this year’s defense authorization act is fondly known, and lawmakers from the opposite sides of the Capitol met this afternoon to hammer out a final bill.

One Hill source said the discussions were, “moving quickly. We hope to have the language locked down by this weekend.” This source did concede that might be too hopeful, but…

The main points of contention center on policy issues such as detainee rights and same sex marriages. The White House has opposed the Senate’s detainee language, threatening to veto the defense bill. Rep. Buck McKeon, who leads the House conferees as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has promised to stick by the House ban on gay marriages performed by military chaplains even if it means Congress fails to pass a defense policy bill for the first time in 50 years.

But these issues can be resolved if the usual bipartisan approach of the two committees holds in the face of election madness. And the White House veto threats are not very compelling. They consist of the not-so-frightening prospect of senior staff recommending a veto, which usually means the White House just wants the House and Senate to make some smart changes and it’ll look the other way in the end.

The Senate’s group of conferees is simply the Armed Services Committee’s members. The House appointed the following HASC lawmakers today: McKeon, Bartlett, Thornberry, Akin, Forbes, Miller (Fla), LoBiondo, Turner (Ohio), Kline, Rogers (Ala), Shuster, Conaway, Wittman, Hunter, Rooney, Schilling, Griffin (Ark), West, Smith (Wash.), Reyes, Sanchez, Loretta, McIntyre, Andrews, Davis (Calif.), Langevin, Larsen (Wash.), Cooper, Bordallo, Courtney, Loebsack, Tsongas, and Pingree (Maine). There are also a slew of House conferees from other committees, such as intelligence, to advise their colleagues.

What do you think?