The Senate may not pass its big defense policy bill before voters decide who controls Congress in November’s midterm elections, the head of the chamber’s Armed Services Committee said Wednesday at an industry conference.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is “pushing hard” to get the chamber’s 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed before lawmakers bill before lawmakers leave Washington in October. “I’d like to say it’s a certainty but I can’t say that,” Reed said Wednesday in Arlington, Va., at the Defense News


The House and Senate each authorized more funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) than President Biden’s administration requested. Authorization bills set spending limits for appropriations bills, which are passed by separate committees. 

Except for the NNSA appropriation the House passed in July, all of Congress’ competing defense funding bills for fiscal year 2023 have proposed far more spending than requested on NNSA’s proposed plutonium pit production plant at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C.

Even if the full Senate does approve its NDAA in September, there would be little time left, and possibly little political incentive for lawmakers fighting for control of the legislature, to reconcile the upper chamber’s version of the bill with the version the House passed in July. If lawmakers make a deal before the election, neither political party could campaign against the other party’s proposed military policy.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s NDAA, which the committee passed over the summer, has about $1.25 billion for Savannah River’s pit plant, compared with about $1.13 billion in the House NDAA. The White House requested $758 million, still about $150 million more than the 2022 appropriation. 

House appropriators proposed about $21 billion for NNSA in fiscal year 2023, which begins Oct. 1, and want the Savannah River pit plant funded at the requested level. The Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee has proposed even more money for NNSA than their counterparts authorized in the upper chamber’s NDAA, including for pits. 

The main difference for NNSA weapons programs between the House and Senate NDAAs is the $200 million above the request that the House NDAA includes for Stockpile Research, Technology and Engineering.

Both NDAAs allow the NNSA to keep working on a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile warhead the administration wanted to cancel.

Matthew Beinart contributed to this report from Arlington, Va.