With midterm elections approaching, senators might seek to avoid debate on the bill's most "politically charged" provisions, including an amendment that would allow female military personnel to obtain abortion care at military hospitals if they used private funds, CQ Today reports (Donnelly, CQ Today, 7/9). The amendment, authored by Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), would repeal a policy that prohibits the provision of abortion services at military hospitals, even if paid for with private funds, except in cases of rape, incest or threats to the woman's life (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/10). Provisions related to border security and a repeal of a ban on openly gay service also are expected to fuel debate.
The Senate Armed Services Committee approved the bill in May. The legislation would authorize $725.7 billion in national security spending through the Pentagon and Department of Energy (CQ Today, 7/9).
The House version (HR 5136), passed in May, does not include the Burris amendment. House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) has said he is opposed to changing the current policy (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/10).
Even if some senators push to debate the bill before the midterm elections, the chamber's full legislative agenda will make quick action difficult, CQ Today reports. In the four weeks before the August recess, the Senate is scheduled to act on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, a supplemental FY 2010 spending package (HR 4899), an extension of unemployment insurance benefits (HR 4213), and a conference report on the financial regulation overhaul (HR 4173 -- H Rept. 111-517) (CQ Today, 7/9).