Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) scrapped several controversial measures from the defense authorization in an attempt to pass the bill before the end of the year.
The two also worked across the Dome with House Members to ensure the bill will clear both chambers. Levin told reporters Wednesday that “anything controversial that can’t make it through both houses” was cut from the newest version. House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) also introduced the bill in his chamber Wednesday.
“Over the last few days, we worked closely together and then with the House of Representatives to come up with a defense bill that we believe can pass both the House and the Senate,” Levin and McCain said in a joint statement Wednesday. “Because of the unique circumstances in which the bill is being considered and the importance of the legislation to our men and women serving in uniform at a time of war, we have agreed to drop many controversial provisions that were included in the House and Senate versions of the bill.”
A repeal of the ban on openly gay service members and a provision to allow abortions in military hospitals were not included in the text of the bill Skelton introduced. The House passed a defense authorization in May that included a repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but the language tripped up that bill’s progress in the Senate.
The annual defense measure, which in past years has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, includes pay raises and benefits for troops, along with the authorization of equipment and training programs.
The House passed stand-alone DADT repeal legislation Wednesday. The bill moves to the Senate, where several procedural hurdles and the year-end legislative rush could threaten its passage.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.