Focus will be on the nine Independent Senators when the controversial Defence (Amendment) Bill 2013—renamed the Miscellaneous Provisions (Defence Force and Police Complaints) Bill—goes to the Upper House, expected to be in two weeks time.
The bill, which gives soldiers powers of arrest, was passed with amendments in the House of Representatives last Friday with the required three-fifths majority after all 29 members of Government voted unanimously for its passage.
The 11 members of the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) voted against it.
The bill is expected to be debated in the Upper House, when the nine Independent Senators will either give or withhold their support for the contentious legislation, seen by some as inimical to the human rights of citizens and contra to the democratic principles of the country.
The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce and other members of the business sector have endorsed the anti-crime initiative to allow soldiers the right to stop, search, seize or detain and arrest people, functions which were only entrusted to the Police Service.
For it to become law, however, the bill must also have a three-fifths special majority for passage in the Senate, which means that it must get the required 19 votes.
While Government has 16 seats in the Senate, the President does not normally exercise his right to vote to change legislation.
This means the People's Partnership Government will require four of the Independent votes to ensure passage of the bill in the Senate.
Independent Senator Dr James Armstrong told the Sunday Express yesterday he is waiting on the debate to decide how he votes.
"I have not been able to hear the debate in its entirety in the Lower House and I will wait until it comes to the Senate," he said.
He said he was unsure how soon that would be, but Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal confirmed yesterday it would be in about two weeks' time.
Efforts to contact other Independent Senators proved futile yesterday.