Both the NDAA and the tax-extenders package appeared close to settled on Monday.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin said he and House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon would be presenting an NDAA reauthorization bill Tuesday morning or sooner. Levin indicated they had compromised on a dispute over military benefit cuts, though he would not hint at the solution they reached. "We still have to present it to our bodies," Levin said. "That's not a minor issue."
Levin huddled with fellow Democrats on the Armed Services Committee after votes on Monday evening, just off the Senate floor. There, he presented the package which he said includes additional funding for the administration's fight against ISIS. In order to pass the bill, Levin said, the NDAA will be presented in both chambers without any amendments for fear that any stray additions could kill the overall package. "It's not a way to legislate, but it's where we're at," he said.
The NDAA will not include a provision pushed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has fought in recent days for Congress to reconsider her amendment to prevent military sexual assaults and pull the adjudication thereof out of the chain of command. Levin called the inability to include amendments like Gillibrand's "unfortunate," but noted that several sexual-assault provisions will be included in the final bill.
Gillibrand huddled with Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, both of whom support the measure, after the meeting. The New Yorker plans to host a press conference on the issue Tuesday, and Blumenthal said that they would continue to push for consideration.
Congress has passed an NDAA every year for the last 53 years, and with Levin and McKeon retiring this year, members are reluctant to break that streak. House leadership aides said they are awaiting McKeon's text, but that there is a chance it could be taken up as a suspension vote as early as Thursday.
At the same time, House Republicans geared up to move a one-year extension of dozens of popular business and individual tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013. The package will be attached to the Achieving Better Life Experience Act, a bill allowing the parents of disabled children to open tax-free savings accounts, which has broad bipartisan support in both chambers.
House Republicans were preparing Monday night to post this one-year version of the extender bill online for public viewing. The House's version would simply extend the wide array of more than 50 breaks that have not yet been renewed just until the end of December 2014—a move to allow businesses and individuals to claim them on their 2014 tax returns.
Movement in the House comes after a veto threat last week from the White House against a broader, longer-term deal between Republicans, Reid, and some other Democrats, on the contention it was too tilted toward well-connected corporations. The majority leader has since taken a backseat in those negotiations, allowing Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden to work with House Financial Services Chairman Dave Camp to devise a new deal before year's end. Wyden's office did not respond to requests for comment Monday, and it was unclear whether he played a role in the House's decision to move forward on a one-year extension.