OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Defense bill heads to the finish

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he expected final passage on Tuesday, after more amendments are cleared Monday evening and Tuesday.

There will also be at least one more roll call, Levin said: for Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-Ariz.) amendment on missile defense and Russia.

Nelson sees compromise on East Coast missile site: As the NDAA heads to conference committee, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) suggested there was a compromise to be found on the East Coast missile site included in the House’s bill.

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But he was resolute that the proposal to start work on an East Coast site, such as conducting environmental impact studies, was not going to happen.

“What I’d rather do is see what a study tells us,” Nelson told The Hill during the cloture vote Monday.  “I think it’s fair game to say let’s take a look at it. The Defense Department has not said we need it.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) had proposed an amendment to include language on the East Coast site during floor debate, but the amendment was disposed of after lawmakers decided to take it up in conference committee. The proposal had little Democratic support in the House, and was unlikely to pass the Senate.

With the Senate opposition, a compromise like Nelson suggested appeared to be the most realistic option for any movement on a site.

Ayotte explains split with Graham: Ayotte said Monday that she agreed with the rationale behind Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) decision to support Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) amendment last week that barred military detention for U.S. citizens.

But she did not want to take the chance, she said, that the provision would be interpreted differently than what Graham and McCain believe — which is that the provision does allow the military detention of U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism.

Feinstein’s amendment was written to bar the military detention of U.S. citizens, but McCain and Graham took a different interpretation in joining the Senate Intelligence chairwoman to pass the provision 67-29 last week (more on why they switched sides here).

Ayotte broke from Graham and McCain, her biggest allies on detention issues, and voted against Feinstein’s amendment.

“We had a lot of discussion about it, but we all decided that we — given the ambiguities — would just vote how we felt we should vote,” Ayotte said. “I decided to go against the amendment overall, because obviously if there were to be a different interpretation of the amendment, I wouldn’t agree with the policy.”

Petition wants a US ‘Death Star’: The White House should start building the Death Star by 2016 — or so says a petition posted on the White House’s “We the People” website. If the petition, started by “John D” from Colorado, can attract 25,000 signatures, it will garner an official White House response.

And why, you ask, should the White House build the “Star Wars’” Death Star?

“By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense,” the petition says.

So far, the petition has 866 signers (as of 7 p.m. EST), so it still has a ways to go. But one of them could be significant: A “Darth V” from Burlington, N.C., is on board.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

— Defense chiefs prod GOP on tax revenue

— Senate votes to advance defense authorization

— Obama issues Syria warning on chemical weapons

— Petition: Obama should build Death Star


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