Norcross, Kim hope for compromise on stalled defense bill
Burlington County Times
November 8, 2019
Negotiations surrounding Congress’ annual defense policy bill have stalled over issues surrounding President Donald Trump’s border wall, but two New Jersey lawmakers remain hopeful that a breakthrough can still be reached to ensure the measure is approved before the new year.
Reps. Donald Norcross and Andy Kim said the policy bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, is too important to fall victim to the partisan gridlock that has doomed scores of legislation over the last several years.
The bill sets spending and policy for the military for the 2020 fiscal year. A compromise is needed because the House and Senate passed different versions of the bill.
That’s hardly unusual and for the last 58 years, Congress has never failed to pass the annual bill.
“I need to be hopeful because it’s so important for us to be able to deliver for our military,” said Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, who is serving with Norcross on the House-Senate conference committee charged with brokering a compromise with senators between the two competing versions of the defense bill.
“It’s a top priority for me as someone on the Armed Services Committee. So we’re certainly trying to press on the gas and make sure it doesn’t get derailed,” Kim said Thursday, during an unrelated news conference with Norcross.
Norcross, D-1 of Camden, also serves on Armed Services and is the chair of the panel’s Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee. He too expressed hope that a compromise was still possible.
“I’m always hopeful. We have to be,” he said, adding that the bill provides the military with much-needed “predictiability” related to spending, policy and equipment procurement.
While Congress has a 58-year streak of approving the legislation on the line, negotiators have struggled to reach compromises on several issues, with the matter of Trump’s diversion of billions in military construction funds to support building his long-promised southern border wall standing out as the major logjam.