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Defense bill dispute holds up Senate vote to fund government

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Sen. Roger Wicker is holding up the stopgap spending measure over negotiations around the annual national defense bill, senators said on Wednesday afternoon.

The Mississippi Republican, who is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, is seeking to enter into negotiations with the House on the National Defense Authorization Act. Senators were optimistic they could finish the spending bill on Wednesday and break early for Thanksgiving, but that requires agreement from all 100 senators.

And Wicker at the moment isn’t giving it.

Wicker “wants assurances that we’ll go to conference on the NDAA. It keeps getting kicked back more and more. So he sees a little point of leverage and he’s going to use it,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “It’ll get resolved. We may not vote on it tonight, but it’ll get worked out.”

The NDAA is one of Congress’ remaining major outstanding items this year; the bill has passed every year for decades. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said of the negotiations on voting on the stopgap: “We’re trying to get it worked out.”