So over the past few days some have been making a show about Duncan Hunter introducing an amendment that
would add each of the Joint Chiefs as certifying authorities on repeal. The language introduced by Hunter is the same exact language of his standalone Restore Military Readiness Act (get it?) of 2011.
Now, though the mechanism for adding the amendment to the defense bill is similar to what we did last year in the Senate with the Military Readiness Enhancement Act (get it?), the reasoning is a bit different. Put on your thinking cap for a second and take a sip of latte, because the next few paragraphs are a bit wordy.
Ok, here goes: If an amendment in the Senate is attached to the defense bill as part of the SASC markup in committee it only requires 50% of the committee to approve, whereas adding amendments to the Defense bill on the floor post-committee requires 60% of Senate to approve to overcome any filibuster. Likewise, an amendment added in committee requires 60% of the full Senate to remove it (to overcome any filibuster).
The House doesn't have filibusters, so with Hunter's amendment the 60% rule doesn't apply. This means in and out of committee an amendment to a bill requires only a simple majority (50+%) to be added, and only a simple majority to be removed.
Next: How seriously should you take this?
Don't get your cammies in a wad, guys. It really isn't a big deal.
You remember how difficult it was to get repeal attached to the defense bill in the Senate last year? And how it took forever for the bill to hit the floor? Yeah, same thing here. In order for this addition to pass in the Senate, a bill with the same exact language would have to pass either in the Senate Arms Services committee as an attachment to its version of the defense bill or as a standalone. And here filibuster rules do apply.
If even a comma is changed in the language the amendment will be voted on in conference after the final vote of the defense bill on the Senate floor. And guess who's in charge of the Senate still and therefore timing of the vote on the defense bill? The same guy who took forever to drop the defense bill when it was favorable to us: Senator Harry Reid.
So really, the obstacles that worked against us last year are now coming into play for a much less popular amendment. Assuming the amendment even passes the House Armed Services Committee - which it very well might not - the cumbersome Congressional process is now working in our favor.
Doomsday Scenario: Amendment gets voted on today, gets attached to the defense bill in the House, and slowly lumbers along to the full House, through the Senate, and eventually to the President's desk. Assuming certification and full implementation have not already happened at this point (doubtful), and the President doesn't play a veto game back and forth (also doubtful), Tier III training (that's the big-E Everyone training) for the entire military would still have already been completed.
Each of the joint chiefs have already signed off on repeal, reported fantastic results from training, and are bracing for implementation and the day where the public isn't watching their respective internal personnel policy decisions so closely. I would bet all the services would approve implementation pretty darn quickly.
Now, with all this, Hunter is still being a bleating jerk with this amendment he's introducing as a way to siderail repeal. And there's a teeny tiny chance that this could eventually one day become a Serious Threat. But again, that is very, very doubtful.
So what can you do? Ignore distractions in Congress. Any threat big or small will be thwarted once certification is signed. So call the White House and push, push, push for certification soon.
But really, we're on a good pace right now, and if what I'm hearing is correct, we should expect some good news soon.