Defense Authorization Bill and Its Post-it Notes

The Defense Authorization Bill did not pass the Senate.

Members of Congress have long attached pet programs to major legislation. More often than not, the primary bill and its many Post-it hangers-on sail through to the president’s desk to become law.

The Defense Authorization Bill has been no different. Ok, with Rep. John Murtha gone, there are probably fewer special constituent promises. But this is a contentious mid-term election year and such under-the-radar amendments are expected.

This year, lawmakers pushed subtlety aside and went big. Really big. While the House can handle Lady Gaga-style legislation, the Senate in its grays and charcoals demands decorum.

The Senate version of the annual Defense Authorization Bill included language for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the current guideline governing the service of homosexuals in the military.

Yeah, sure, both sides say the bill’s failure was over legislative process – maybe the process of attaching controversial issues as amendments to a major bill? Just maybe?

Aside from slapping on the DADT Post-it, immigration legislation was proposed. (It is surprising there were no Sumner-style attacks.) The proposed immigration measure allowed for those who entered the U.S. illegally before age 16 a path to legit citizenship through post-secondary education or military service. Read: If you are threatened with deportation (which is unlikely in this country) and you cannot get into college, find your nearest military recruiter.

But I digress.

Because of these game-changing amendments, the Defense Authorization Bill has stalled. This bill has passed 48 times in the past and will certainly pass gain, but this one will sit until after the mid-term elections.

When will defense legislation cease to be everyone’s favorite pork and special-interest barrel?

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