Defense bill hits a snag over land swaps, wilderness expansion, dividing Senate Republicans

Associated Press

Speedy passage of a sweeping defense policy bill has hit a snag over public lands.

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has objected to the land swaps and expansion of wilderness areas included in the $585 billion defense legislation. He is promising to use Senate procedures to block any attempt to quickly finish the bill next week in the lame-duck session.

Continue Reading Below

The issue is dividing Senate Republicans, with Western state lawmakers favoring the bill and Coburn and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz opposed.

The House is expected to vote on Thursday on the bill that authorizes spending on aircraft, ships and military personnel. The measure also expands the U.S. operations to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The Senate was planning to act next week.