Senate passes defense authorization bill

After months of delay, the Senate on Tuesday passed a $491.6 billion defense-authorization bill peppered with guidelines and constraints on the treatment of military detainees and the way the White House will handle the war in Iraq.

The Senate bill is setting the stage for a feud with the House authorizers whose bill, passed early this summer, does not contain similar amendments to the ones in the Senate.

Just minutes before the chamber voted on the entire defense authorization bill, the Senate voted on an amendment offered by Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), which requires the White House to report to Congress and the public on the military and political progress in Iraq every three months. Warner's amendment passed 79-19. An amendment offered by Carl Levin (D-Mich.), which required estimates for a withdrawal timetable, apart from the regular progress reports from the White House, failed.

In addition, Graham used a parliamentary tactic called a second-degree amendment to change one of his controversial amendments that passed last week. His amendment basically stripped a 2004 Supreme Court ruling that allowed detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to challenge their imprisonment in court. The modified amendment permits the courts to hear a detainee's claim that his detention is unlawful or violates the Constitution. It will allow some review for those convicted by flawed military commissions. The jurisdiction of the courts will be limited.