Newspaper article Roll Call

House Scraps NDAA Conference Vote amid 'Blue Slip' Hang Up

Newspaper article Roll Call

House Scraps NDAA Conference Vote amid 'Blue Slip' Hang Up

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House Scraps NDAA Conference Vote Amid 'Blue Slip' Hang Up

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* By Connor O'Brien and Niels Lesniewski

* Roll Call Staff

* June 24, 2015, 6:29 p.m.

The House and Senate conference on their annual defense policy bill isn't happening. At least not today.

The House called off its vote on a motion to request a conference committee to hammer out differences with the Senate over the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill (HR 1735), which was set to occur during Wednesday's late-afternoon vote series along with a Democratic motion to instruct the conferees.

At issue is a constitutional requirement that bills affecting revenue originate in the House, and the parliamentary mechanism to enforce it, commonly known as a 'blue slip.'

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, R-Ariz., attributed the snag to his bill's military retirement provisions, though did not specify further which part of the plan triggered the blue slip. Both House and Senate bills make changes to the retirement system for future service members by blending the current annuity benefit with a matching federal Thrift Savings Plan contribution.

Speaking to CQ Roll Call Wednesday afternoon, McCain expressed confidence he could get unanimous consent on the Senate floor to fix the issue.

"In other words, I have to get UC in order to take that part out of the bill, and I believe that I can get that tomorrow. I'm not sure, though," McCain said.

House Armed Services ranking Democrat Adam Smith of Washington first told CQ Roll Call of the delay in the conference vote. Speaking off the House floor during votes, Smith said the issue was related to a blue slip against the Senate's version of the bill, but stressed he knew little else.

"The Senate's got a problem, so we're not going to conference today," said Smith, who would have led the minority side of the debate Wednesday as the top Democrat on Armed Services.

"I don't understand the details. I was told there was a 'blue slip' revenue issue," he said. …

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