Moments ago, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) try to work out a time agreement to debate the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) took to the floor to argue that even if the Senate can invoke cloture today, passing the bill may still prove an “insurmountable challenge”:
LEVIN: Even if we get 60 votes today to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to this bill and even if we’re able to consider amendments and pass this bill in a few days, it will be a possibly insurmountable challenge to work out all of the differences with the House. Over the last 10 years, madam President, it has taken an average of 75 days to conference the defense authorization bill with the House, after we passed it. If we don’t proceed with this bill, this week, then involving cloture sometime next week, even if we could do it would be a symbolic victory and I don’t believe there would be enough time to hammer out a final bill before the end of the session.
Levin made a strong case for repealing DADT earlier in the speech, but in this clip he referenced the policy in such a way as to suggest that he would support a stripped down defense bill, if it meant passing something before the end of the year. “But the only way this will be real and that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — assuming that we continue to keep it in the bill — will be real, is if we proceed to the bill this week. We cannot and should not delay this vote any longer.”
This morning, Reid announced that he planned to move on the NDAA today. “I also will likely, sometime today move to reconsider the previously failed cloture vote on defense authorization bill,” he said, without specifying an exact time. Most observers, however, believe that the measure will come to a vote around noon.