Defense authorization bill still stuck in the Senate

Key senators on the Armed Services Committee are still waiting to hear when the full Senate will take up the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2006; the committee passed the bill in May.

The legislation, HR 1815, cleared the House earlier this year. If the Senate passes the bill, it will go to conference committee so lawmakers can iron out differences between the two versions.
Committee officials are anxiously awaiting word from majority leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) on when the bill will hit the floor.

'We're very much hoping to get an opportunity to debate the bill on the floor,' said a spokeswoman for the committee's ranking member, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).

She referred questions on why the bill was being delayed to Frist's office, where no one was available for comment.

Calls to committee chairman John Warner's (R-Va.) office had not been returned at press time.

The bill's status creates an interesting dilemma. For the first time, the Defense spending bill, which passed the Senate earlier this month, could be finished and signed into law before DOD is authorized to spend its money. Warner earlier this month tried to attach the authorization bill to the appropriations bill, but had to remove it when other senators objected.

If the bill passes, it will result in a cut in funding for several IT projects no matter which version'the House or Senate'passes.

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