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SASC Finally Reports Breakdown of Vote to Close NDAA

Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee

(U.S. Army Photo)

With little fanfare, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) released its report to accompany the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) text, which it had released last week. The report contains the roll call tallies for the votes taken in the closed session during which SASC debated and marked up the massive Pentagon spending bill. As in previous years, the report contains the roll call vote to move from an open session—the committee default—to a closed session. However, unlike in previous years, this occurred in a special closed executive session that met over three weeks before SASC began considering this bill, while some Senators were not even in the room.

So to sum it all up, this year, SASC broke two more procedural rules than in previous years: holding the vote in a closed session three weeks before the markup of the bill began without releasing the roll call of those votes in a timely manner, and allowing staffers to cast unconfirmed proxy votes for their bosses. This means that the double rule-breaking April 23 vote now appears, on paper, to have been conducted as all previous votes have, allowing SASC to basically write its own history.

The breakdown is as follows (emphasis added):

  1. MOTION: To conduct full committee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 in closed session because of classified and proprietary information expected to be discussed.

    VOTE: Passed by roll call vote 17-9

    In favor: Senators McCain, Inhofe, Sessions, Wicker, Fischer, Cotton, Rounds, Tillis, Sullivan, Graham, Reed, Nelson, Manchin, Donnelly, Hirono, Kaine, and King

    Opposed: Senators Ayotte, Ernst, Lee, Cruz, McCaskill, Shaheen, Gillibrand, Blumenthal, and Heinrich

This report is the closest the public will come to knowing what happens behind the scenes when SASC discusses the NDAA. The accompanying NDAA text may be found here.

By: Elizabeth "Liz" Hempowicz
Director of Public Policy, POGO

Photograph of Elizabeth Liz Hempowicz is the Director of Public Policy for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Budget, National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Department of Defense (DOD)

Authors: Elizabeth "Liz" Hempowicz

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