Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is hoping that his amendment requiring the U.S. government to sell at least 66 F-16s to Taiwan will remain alive.

The member of the Senate Armed Services Committee proposed the measure as part of the defense authorization bill for fiscal 2012 that the Senate planned to debate until early in the day on Nov. 30.

“Our hope is we’ll get a vote on that before time runs out,” Cornyn says of the amendment. Cornyn says he has racked up bipartisan support for the bill, but it is not without controversy.

Even if the Senate does manage to vote on the amendment – and pass it – the underlying defense policy bill seemed in danger of failing to pass for the first time in half a century.

A controversial provision regarding the treatment of military detainees looked as if it could derail support for the bill, which will need 60 votes to pass. But an amendment that would strip the provision was defeated by a 61-37 vote. If those vote numbers hold for the overall bill, it will have enough for final passage.

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the top Republican on the armed services committee, says he is optimistic about the bill’s prospects. “I look forward to the Senate completing its vital work of providing for our nation’s defense and our men and women in uniform by passing the Defense Authorization bill by the end of this week.”

If it does pass, it will endorse a major change to the power structure of the military. Senators have agreed to add a provision that would make the chief of the National Guard Bureau a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They have also added a measure that would allow for the retirement of additional strategic airlifters – reducing the inventory from 316 to 301. That is likely to involve Lockheed Martin C-5 aircraft.

A growing list of amendments is still vying for consideration. Those include an amendment to transfer funding from the Pentagon to the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons activities, a measure that would slow the retirement of B-1 bombers and a ban on the use of cluster munitions. Also, Tea Party freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is proposing to reduce the Pentagon’s top line budget in the bill by up to 2%, or $553.9 billion.