Senate Republicans blocked a move to end debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, leaving the key legislation in limbo heading into a two week break and with time running out on the year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., tried multiple times this week to get an agreement from Republicans to vote on selected amendments, but was rejected at each turn. In frustration, he filed cloture on the whole bill, leading to Thursday's vote, which failed 51-44, short of the 60 votes needed. Republican senators rejected a move that would have cost them the ability to debate a series of issues and amendments they hold dear. More than 400 amendments to the bill have been filed. Often handfuls of these measures will get lumped into a package and voted on en mass.
The Senate still has not voted on a measure from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., that would remove the prosecutions of serious crime, including sexual assault, from the chain of command.
But with discord between the parties at a high, and with repeated attempts to move forward on this bill specifically, it's unclear how the problems that plagued the Senate this week won't still be an issue in December.
Though the Senate likely will take up the bill — which has been passed every year for more than a half century — the clock is running out for lawmakers. If and when the Senate approves the NDAA, it still needs to go to conference with the House and Congress is not scheduled to be in town for nearly half of December.