Defense bill caught in Congress' political divide

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Associated Press

Posted on November 24, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 7:33 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — For 51 years of war and peace, Republicans and Democrats rallied around a bill to pay the troops, buy ships and aircraft, and set military policy.

Last week, the Senate couldn't even agree on votes.

Under pressure from President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was determined to avoid a vote on adding a new batch of tough penalties against Iran to the defense bill as international negotiators held nuclear talks in Switzerland.

Reid ruled out an open amendment process. Republicans complained it was a power grab, counter to what had been done with the bill in the past.

Now the measure is stalled, the latest traditionally bipartisan bill to fall on the hard times of a fractious Congress.

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