U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin hopes the upper chamber will take up a defense policy bill after Election Day, but there’s a twist.
The Michigan Democrat told reporters Sept. 19 that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has expressed a willingness to bring up the 2013 defense authorization bill this year.
The catch? “We have to get it down to where debate [on the Senate floor] would be a few days, not a few weeks,” Levin said. “That’s what the leader needs.”
With a number of controversial issues included in the defense authorization bill, a few days of floor debate could prove tricky, leaving open the possibility the Senate would move on to other matters. The chamber is facing a slew of other legislation it must address in a lame-duck session in November and January.
That means Armed Services Committee leaders and staff must work behind the scenes in coming weeks to ensure the chamber could move the legislation quickly. Doing so means talking to senators and aides about amendments that will be offered before a full Senate vote on the bill.
The House already has approved its version of the annual Pentagon policy bill; differences between the two bills would be hammered out by a House-Senate conference committee.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the committee, told reporters moments earlier that he continues to press Reid to bring up the defense bill. Should the majority leader decline to do so, , McCain says for the Pentagon, “it would be hard to operate without an authorization bill.”