With the Senate likely to vote next week on the defense authorization bill, concern is growing that one or more senators may filibuster the bill to make clear their displeasure or unease with hate crimes legislation that was attached to the bill.
"The big issue is, are we going to get cloture. If we don't they could just tie it up for, well, a long time," said one congressional aide.
Cloture, of course, is not closure, although the two can go hand in hand depending on which side you're on.
Cloture requires the votes of 60 senators to stop debate on a bill pending before the Senate. Sen. John McCain, top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has made very clear his unease with the hate crimes language having been bundled into the defense bill.
In a Tweet McCain sent out on Oct. 7 he said it plain: "...strongly oppose the hate crime legislation that was added, but we must support our troops!"
In the end, that may be the path that Republicans take. Swallow hard and support the troops by voting for the bill. That may come after some substantial speechifying, but it is hard to imagine a Republican senator holding up the defense bill for a great length of time to make a point that would be probably be lost on most decent people. After all, the House has passed the bill and the hate crimes language cannot be stripped from it.
As the congressional aide noted, all anyone can do is delay the bill. They can't change it.