Reid also has made clear he wants the vote on the Levin-Reed amendment to be the focal point of the debate and doesn’t want to muddy the waters by having Democrats support multiple amendments to change the mission in Iraq. That means both also are likely to have to tangle with the 60-vote barrier.
“I don’t know if either of them is going to get more than a handful of Democratic votes,” said one senior Senate Democratic aide. The aide added that it’s unlikely that the proposals would even get all Republican votes, considering that the White House opposes the Alexander-Salazar amendment and has said the Warner-Lugar plan is premature.
Meanwhile, the entire bill could be in jeopardy if Reid decides to try forcing final passage this week. Republicans, such as Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (Miss.), have said the nearly $650 billion bill has more to do with the entire defense of the nation than just the Iraq War, and they want to vote on other issues.
Last week, Lott indicated that if Reid files cloture on the bill this week, which appears likely, Republicans probably would block an end to debate.
“How many votes do we have to have on Iraq to actually vote on the Defense authorization?” Lott said.
But Reid doesn’t agree that the debate needs to go further than the handful of Iraq proposals on tap. If Levin-Reed were to pass, “We’d have a pretty good bill without any other amendments,” he said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.