Player of the Week: Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

 It is rare for Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence MORE (D-Mich.) and President Obama to be publicly at odds on anything. 

But on language about detainees in Levin’s defense authorization bill, they disagree sharply.

Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, takes issue with Obama over how terror suspects should be prosecuted and detained. The White House this month threatened to veto Levin’s bill, claiming it would tie the hands of intelligence and law-enforcement officials. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.), ranking member on the panel, who was defeated by Obama in the 2008 presidential race, accused the administration of playing politics with its veto threat.

Levin and McCain are not backing down. On Monday, they penned an op-ed in The Washington Post defending their measure and noting that it was unanimously approved by the Armed Services Committee.

The bill stipulates that al Qaeda terror suspects should be taken into military custody, though it provides a waiver for the executive branch to move suspects under the jurisdiction of federal law enforcement officials.

There are powerful congressional critics of the Levin-McCain provisions, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyGrassley, Dems step up battle over judicial nominees Popular bill to fight drug prices left out of budget deal Judiciary Dems want public hearings with Kushner, Trump Jr. MORE (D-Vt.) and Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinLawmakers feel pressure on guns Feinstein: Trump must urge GOP to pass bump stock ban Florida lawmakers reject motion to consider bill that would ban assault rifles MORE (D-Calif.). 

This is all a headache for Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.), who wanted the bill approved before Thanksgiving. 

Still, the Senate is scheduled to bring the legislation forward this week. How Levin handles this delicate issue will be revealing. He wants his language in the law but does not want to provide political ammunition to Republicans running to oust Obama from the White House in next year’s election. 

Asked by The Hill if he was given advance warning by the White House before the veto threat, Levin didn’t answer directly, saying he assumed the administration would threaten a veto. 

In many ways, the fight over the detainee language is the latest in the never-ending battle between the executive and legislative branches. And both sides are refusing to blink.