By JOHN T. BENNETT
WASHINGTON — Senior US senators are still working on an agreement for floor amendments to a 2015 Pentagon policy bill, and its Republican manager wants his colleagues to get their amendments in now to avoid a repeat of last year’s chaos.
Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., told reporters Tuesday that a final plan for how to handle floor debate and amendments has yet to be finalized. Moments later, SASC Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the same.
Late last year, the Senate melted down on its first try at passing its version of the 2014 incarnation of the annual legislation due to a partisan flap over amendments. At that time, Levin said GOP senators produced over two dozen amendments during the NDAA process that he, Inhofe and Senate leaders had not previously seen nor approved.
The result last year was SASC leaders and aides were forced to pre-conference a somewhat watered-down bill with their House Armed Services Committee counterparts that was sped through both chambers.
When CongressWatch asked Inhofe how a repeat can be avoided, he had a message for his GOP colleagues: “Republicans, don’t come around complaining to me in December that you don’t have amendments. Now is the time to get them out. And that was with the blessing of both leaders of the Senate.”