This Hill article (via Tapped) is a nice summary of the current state of affairs around the defense bill. A major fight could be brewing, as Republicans consider a modified "nuclear option" and Dems consider a filibuster.

The issue is fraught with political risks for Democrats. A conference report cannot be amended. Because the House has already passed the measure, the conference itself has been vitiated and the report could not be recommitted. Thus, a successful point of order against the ANWR provision would kill the bill and force Republican leaders to create a new conference committee or pass an extension beyond the current Dec. 31 expiration to keep the Pentagon operating.

Under that scenario, or a successful filibuster, Democrats could leave themselves open to accusations of shutting down the Defense Department and denying money to American troops on the ground in Iraq.

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What is the Republican defense for this grossly anti-democratic maneuver?

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Republicans argued that Democrats had used similar means to achieve their ends when they held power.

Just like your grade school teacher taught you.