Obama getting involved in Defense bill negotiations

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The White House says mandatory military custody would tie the hands of law enforcement’s counterterrorism efforts. The Senate version of the bill included a waiver to move suspects out of military custody, but the Obama administration has said this would be too burdensome.

Levin and Senate Armed Services ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have defended the provisions as an important step to help the U.S. combat terrorism.

Attempts to strip the terror detention policies from the bill were not unsuccessful in the Senate, where the bill ultimately passed 93-7. Congressional sources have said this week the military custody provisions are expected to remain in the final bill, putting pressure on the president to either back down and sign the bill or veto what’s considered must-pass legislation.

The president’s involvement in negotiations raises the stakes of his veto threat if some changes aren’t made to the detainee provisions.

Levin told The Hill earlier this week that he “can’t imagine” Obama would veto the bill.

“I went through the provisions with them and showed their concern about an impact on civilian law enforcement was not there,” Levin said of meetings with administration officials.

Other top administration officials have also met with senators this week. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an Armed Services member, said on Tuesday the committee was trying “to accommodate” administration concerns after GOP senators met with FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also spoke with Levin, according to the AP.

Levin said the goal is to finish the Defense bill before the end of next week.