MOAA Compares House and Senate Versions of NDAA 2018

September 29, 2017 

The FY2018 defense authorization bill is about to enter the next phase of the legislative process. What will the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) look like, and what other challenges await?

The process leading up to a defense bill is basic in its design but complicated in every other way. The House of Representatives passed its version of the bill July 14; the Senate passed its Sept. 18. The next step is to reconcile the two bills into one both houses can support.

This reconciliation takes place in a conference committee, an ad hoc body comprising key subcommittee members and others as determined by House and Senate leaders. As of this date, the committee has yet to be formed - but it is likely to happen soon as there are many differences to resolve. Some of those key differences are detailed here: 

FY18 NDAA Priorities


While there are three full months left in calendar year 2017, there are only 32 days when both houses are in session. Those days in December are key, in the event the bill gets to President Donald Trump and he delays signing. As almost happened last year, the bill can become law without the president's signature if 10 days elapse from submission and Congress remains in session. 

Former President Barack Obama signed the 2017 NDAA Dec. 23, the Friday before Christmas, on the last day before the bill would have become law on its own. And yes, there were members of Congress on Capitol Hill to ensure in-session status.

Given this year's noted differences between the House and Senate, and the time it takes to form a conference committee and work through the debates and motions, we are looking at a reduced opportunity for robust discussion - and for House provisions to prevail. Some leaders in the Senate have stated the NDAA talks will go smoothly, seemingly not appreciative of the division in some areas.

With so much on the line in these final days of the legislative cycle, we need you to engage with your members of Congress to ensure the conference committee gives their full attention to these important issues affecting our uniformed services. While not every member of Congress will be a conferee, they do remain influential to the process and outcomes.

Engage with your members of Congress.


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