The House is expected to vote next week on a conference report that settles differences between its version of the fiscal year 2019 defense policy bill and the Senate’s legislation.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will bring the report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the House floor for consideration ahead of an original July 27 deadline set by House and Senate Armed Services Committee leadership.
NDAA conferees began meeting last Wednesday, with the goal of settling differences between the House’s bill and the Senate’s $716 billion version.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), House Armed Services Committe (HASC) ranking member, told Defense Daily on Tuesday that conferees were still working on some of the large differences between the two bills and the negotiations were “going to be a challenge” (Defense Daily, July 17).
Major differences between the two bills include the Senate’s provision for one new Littoral Combat Ship for the Navy against the House’s request for three. The House’s version would require the Air Force to stick with replacing JSTARS, while the Senate’s bill does not.
A HASC spokesperson told Defense Daily on Thursday that conference meetings are ongoing.
“I think the discussions are going pretty well. We’re not there yet. But I think people feel good about the timing,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told Defense Daily on Thursday.
HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Smith are leading conference negotiations on the FY '19 NDAA, alongside Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). Inhofe is filling for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the SASC, who is not present due to health-related reasons.
With the House still on schedule for recess in August, if a vote on the NDAA is not held next week it may be pushed until after Labor Day.
"We're working as hard as possible to meet that date," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, an NDAA conferee, told Defense Daily regarding the original July 27 deadline.