Debates over war authorizations, military base closures, and more Navy ships are all possible next week when the Senate's annual defense authorization bill is expected to hit the chamber floor.
Hundreds of proposed amendments have been filed by senators, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who are hoping their issues will get a vote when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., shepherds the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act through the gauntlet of floor debate to final passage.
Paul's two amendments, dealing with indefinite detention of enemy combatants and repeal of war authorizations, could be the first hurdle when the NDAA faces a procedural vote Monday that will determine whether it moves on to a floor debate.
When McCain returned to Washington in July following his brain cancer diagnosis, Paul blocked his attempt to bring the defense bill to the floor amid a dispute over whether the amendments would be considered.
"Sen. Paul remains committed to including his two bipartisan amendments when the debate starts on NDAA," his spokesman Sergio Gor said Friday.
Talks over the amendments are ongoing, according to a source close to the discussions.
One of Paul's amendments would repeal authorizations for the use of military force that were passed after Sept. 11 and before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and have been used as a legal basis for the past three administrations to wage military operations against terrorist groups around the world.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., has proposed a similar amendment that would cause the war authorization passed after Sept. 11 for al Qaeda and associated forces to expire in three years.
Senators have been filing NDAA amendments since before Congress's summer recess and for now it is unclear which proposals will make it to the chamber floor for a vote.
McCain, the Armed Services chairman, and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the committee's ranking member, have filed an amendment that could open the door to a round of Department of Defense base closures.
An amendment by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would add an additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer into the defense budget and Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., wants to authorize $1.2 billion in spending for two additional littoral combat ships for the Navy.
The NDAA bill now calls for three of the Navy destroyers and just one LCS. McCain is a long-time critic of the littoral combat ship program, which he sees as a prime example of Pentagon waste.
The heated debate over President Trump's ban on transgender military service could also spill over into the Senate next week if an amendment by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Collins to delay the ban gets considered.
Trump has ordered the Pentagon to abandon plans to recruit transgender troops and to eliminate coverage for gender transition-related surgeries by March. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is impaneling a group of experts to study those issues and what should become of transgender troops currently serving.
The Gillibrand-Collins amendment would force the Pentagon to complete a six-month study on transgender recruiting that it has shelved before it makes any personnel policy changes.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of littoral combat ships Sen. Strange wants for the Navy.