What Was Lost in the Defense Bill Filibuster

Created: September 22, 2010 09:18 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Most of the stories about the Republican filibuster yesterday of the defense authorization bill have focused on two amendments it squashed: a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a planned addition of the DREAM Act, which would provide legal status to some young people in exchange for military service or school.

But Mother Jones points out, the defense authorization bill has about 3,500 other provisions — many of them important changes to the agenda for the Department of Defense.

It’s worth reading the full list, but here are a few notable provisions:

Revamping US Military and Foreign Policy

  • No permanent military bases in Afghanistan.
  • Report on long-term costs of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
  • National Military Strategic Plan to Counter Iran.

Anti-Corruption

  • Standards and certification for private security contractors.
  • Inclusion of bribery in disclosure requirements of the Federal awardee performance and integrity information system.

Environmental Progress

  • Report identifying hybrid or electric propulsion systems and other fuel-saving technologies for incorporation into tactical motor vehicles.

Senators said they will have to eventually pass the bill — it just may be in a lame duck session. The Senate has passed a defense authorization bill for the past 48 years.

“We have to proceed to consider the defense authorization bill, because our military needs it,” Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said yesterday. “We need it for authorization of critical military equipment for our troops to fight on our behalf. … We’ve got to take this bill up, it’s our national responsibility.”

It’s unlikely Harry Reid would again attempt to attach the DREAM Act to the bill, but the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell amendment will be an issue in the future. It was added by the Senate Armed Services Committee and is already a part of the defense authorization bill.

That does not mean the repeal would kill the bill in the future, though. Under different debate rules, Republicans could offer an amendment striking the repeal from the defense authorization bill. And it could find additional support: Some Republicans, such as Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have said they would vote in support of the repeal, even though they voted to filibuster the bill moving to the Senate floor yesterday.