Levin and McCain want stripped-down defense bill added to lame-duck agenda

The Senate added another item to its busy lame-duck schedule after the top members of the Senate Armed Services Committee announced a stripped-down defense authorization bill.

Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman and ranking member of the panel, said they'd reached an agreement on a defense bill from which controversial provisions — like a repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" — had been removed.

The pair said they hoped to move the legislation through the Senate by the end of the year.

"Because of the unique circumstances in which the bill is being considered and the importance of the legislation to our men and women serving in uniform at a time of war, we have agreed to drop many controversial provisions that were included in the House and Senate versions of the bill," the pair said in a statement.

"It is our hope that the House and the Senate will move quickly to enact this important legislation before the end of the Congress," they added.

The defense bill only piles onto a jam-packed agenda for the Senate in the final days of the lame-duck Congress. The Senate still has to finish work on a standalone repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell," the DREAM Act and the New START Treaty, the last of which is up for Senate consideration on Thursday.