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Senate NDAA and Non-Defense Legislation July 24, 2009

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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One dynamic aspect of the Senate is that Senators, at any time in the legislative process, can submit an amendment to a bill whether it directly relates to the pending legislation or not. In the case of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), multiple amendments have been introduced that do not directly relate to the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense (DOD). This is not uncommon. Several noteworthy amendments, however, have made their way to the Senate floor within the last week in addition to the seemingly ubiquitous F-22. Adopted amendments, along with the rest of the Senate NDAA, will proceed to final passage and then to conference with the House.

  • The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act was adopted after cloture was invoked (63-28) which expands federal law on hate crimes from race-based crimes to those involving sexual orientation, gender or disability. First introduced in 2001, this amendment passed last year’s NDAA but was dropped after the president released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) threating to veto the bill. The Senate also approved an amendment to clarify that the Hate-Crime amendment cannot infringe on First Amendment rights.
  • An amendment was adopted introduced by John Kerry of Massachusetts which mandated a “sense of the Senate” to express full support for enforcing existing (and possibly additional) sanctions against North Korea. The amendment also required a formal review to re-examine if North Korea should be re-listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Senate favored Kerry’s “sense of the Senate” amendment over an amendment offered by Sam Brownback of Kansas, which would have re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
  • The Thune amendment, of John Thune of South Dakota, was voted down but would have allowed citizens who have concealed carry permits carry concealed weapons from one State to another. Although the amendment did not pass, it did receive 58 of the 60 votes it would have needed to win approval.
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