Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has an aggressive plan for what could be a two-day workweek ahead of the Veterans Day holiday.
The Kentucky Republican secured a consent agreement Nov. 5 that sets up a Tuesday morning vote on the Senate agreeing to a House-passed revision of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill, clearing one must-do item off the calendar. While the changes to the policy measure reflect the funding levels for the Pentagon in the recent bipartisan budget agreement, eliminating one key reason President Barack Obama vetoed the original measure, a disagreement remains over potentially closing the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest has identified the Gitmo issue as one additional reason why the first version of the Pentagon's authorization bill faced a veto.
White House: No Timeline on Gitmo Closure Plan
Senators will also continue work on the fiscal 2016 spending bill for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs, timed just ahead of the Nov. 11 observance of Veterans Day.
The MilCon-VA measure is the first appropriations bill the Senate has proceeded to this fiscal year, with Democrats saying the measure could form the basis for an omnibus bill during the December debate on keeping the government funded past Dec. 11.
"We are one step closer to putting veterans first and partisanship aside," Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., the corresponding Appropriations subcommittee chairman, said in a statement after the Nov. 5 vote to proceed to that bill. "This bipartisan bill funds veterans' care at record levels — $1.1 billion above what the president requested."
In addition to veterans-related events Wednesday, McConnell is scheduled to deliver a lecture presented by the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship and Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky.
McConnell is speaking about a trio of Kentuckians who all served as senators: Happy Chandler, Earle C. Clements and Thruston Morton.