Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 8, 2010

COLLINS POSITIONED TO KILL DADT REPEAL.... We talked earlier Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) surprise move this morning: he's getting started tonight on the defense authorization act, which includes a provision on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I talked to a senior Senate aide who's helped flesh out where things stand in more detail.

At this point, Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine, who claims to support repeal, appears to be the senator who stands in the way of success. On Friday, Collins had a lengthy meeting with Reid and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), trying to resolve her concerns and clear the way for passage. They didn't reach an agreement.

This was soon followed by President Obama reaching out to Collins directly over the weekend, urging her to do the right thing. They didn't reach an agreement, either. This led to additional talks between Reid and Collins this morning.

In a nutshell, Collins is asking Democratic leaders for unlimited debate on the defense bill. Reid, in turn, is offering Collins a compromise: votes on 10 separate amendments*, seven of which would come from Republicans, three of which would come from Democrats.

Collins has responded that this isn't good enough, and she'll refuse to let the Senate vote up or down on the legislation.

It's worth emphasizing that Collins just isn't being reasonable. Looking back over the last couple of decades, a total of 10 amendments is entirely routine for this defense authorization bill, and is actually far more than the number of amendments considered most of the time.

Why not just give in and tell Collins she can have unlimited debate? Because Republicans really are desperate to kill the legislation, and the most far-right members will keep offering unrelated amendments indefinitely, running out the clock on the lame-duck session, and derailing the bill.

The aide told me, Collins is "basically asking for a unicorn for Christmas. We can't give her a unicorn."

So, is that it? Will Collins screw over gay servicemembers and blow off Pentagon requests over baseless procedural demands? That appears pretty likely.

There's also the matter of the "hostage strategy" -- Collins is part of a united GOP caucus that has vowed to kill literally every piece of legislation until Republicans are satisfied with the result of the tax debate. As of now, that includes DADT repeal.

But it's not quite over. Reid, my source told me, is "still trying," and Lieberman, who's been "tireless" on this issue, continues to urge Collins to do the right thing.

One wonders how many voters in Maine who care about this issue might be willing to pick up the phone between now and tonight.

* Update: Still hoping to persuade Collins, Dems are now offering 15 amendments, 10 of which could come from Republicans.

Steve Benen 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Not to change the subject but if one GOP Senator can kill DADT why can't just one Democrat senator kill the Tax Compromise? Is it just bluster that the good Senator from Ohio, Brown screamed bloody murder on Olbermann last night? Why can't just one Dem pull the plug on the Tax deal?

Posted by: stevio on December 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

But Obama doesn't care about DADT and has done nothing to help.

Posted by: Obama_DADT on December 8, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

I hope she realizes that her name will go down in the history books as the bigot who stopped the repeal of DADT.

Posted by: Objective Dem on December 8, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Lieberman accuses Julian Assange of Treason, and calls for his execution.

I trust he feels the same way about Senator Collins refusing to Support Our Troops In a Time of War.

Posted by: DAY on December 8, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Reid should tell the GOP its this funding bill or no funding bill. And then scream about how the GOP is refusing to fund our troops. He needs to channel a little Grayson.

Posted by: g on December 8, 2010 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Does AF1 not go to Maine?

Posted by: square1 on December 8, 2010 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Maine. I call her all the fucking time.

Never, never, never does she listen. The people who vote for her are exactly the ones who never call. Her campaign platform last time was, 'Maine's Senator.'

And she's gay. Is this just self-hatred? WTF?

Posted by: gussie on December 8, 2010 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Until we reform or get rid of the filibuster, we will continue this Polish-style politics where one person wants to be bribed and will hold everyone else hostage.

Lieberman did it on the medicare-for-all idea, so he is getting some comeuppance here.

But this stuff is just getting RIDICULOUS.

And Senators are starting to all look as constipated as Mitch McConnell already does.

Posted by: jjm on December 8, 2010 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this just what she does every single time something comes up that an actual moderate might vote for: play footsie and then pull back at the last moment?

Posted by: ceilidth on December 8, 2010 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Susan Collins
DC Office Information
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2523
Fax: (202) 224-2693

As hard as it is to believe, word is that faxes still work best. She is also available, to residents of Maine, via email at this address:

http://collins.senate.gov/public/continue.cfm?FuseAction=ContactSenatorCollins.email

Hope this helps.

Shantyhag

Posted by: Shantyhag on December 8, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Not to change the subject but if one GOP Senator can kill DADT why can't just one Democrat senator kill the Tax Compromise? Is it just bluster that the good Senator from Ohio, Brown screamed bloody murder on Olbermann last night? Why can't just one Dem pull the plug on the Tax deal?
Posted by: stevio on December 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM

(Collins would be the 60th vote to get over a filibuster; moreover, Brown wants to get something passed eventually)

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 8, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

It speaks volumes about the state of politics in the U.S. that this issue casts Joe Lieberman in a positive light.

Posted by: Mark on December 8, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

What a whore-bitch-dog!

This really is pathetic, the minority side has called every shot since they lost the Presidency and nothing has been done to remedy this.. Now up is down, black is white, wrong is right, etc. I'm getting really pissed off. Susan Collins, you suck!

Posted by: Trollop on December 8, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Let's not pretend this is just Collins, she's just the designated hitter for the Party of No.

Posted by: martin on December 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

They will not get a single Republican vote, and they won't get all of the Democrats.

Obama will have to over turn it with an executive order, but he won't.

I never thought this would pass.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 8, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

So will people finally stop referring to her as a "moderate?"

Posted by: K in VA on December 8, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Will Collins screw over gay servicemembers and blow off Pentagon requests over baseless procedural demands? That appears pretty likely.

Will Collins face any adverse consequences for screwing over gay servicemembers and blowing off Pentagon requests over baseless procedural demands? That appears pretty unlikely.

Posted by: Gregory on December 8, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

The way American politics works and has always worked is that bigotry wins more voters than it loses.

Posted by: JMG on December 8, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

she's just the designated hitter for the Party of No

True enough. But for some reason, Democrats won't point out to Maine's voters -- who wouldn't vote for a neo-Confederate like Jeff Sessions or Saxby Chambliss -- that Collins votes exactly like they do.

"Moderate Republican," my eye.

Posted by: Gregory on December 8, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Folks, please do what you can and call Collins' office to encourage her to vote for repeal. Even if you don't live in Maine. They took my call and noted my support without asking me where I live: 202-224-2523

http://collins.senate.gov/public/continue.cfm?FuseAction=ContactSenatorCollins.Phone&CFID=64830598&CFTOKEN=15823518

Posted by: RS on December 8, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Can I just say how weird it feels to have Lieberman on the right side of an issue?

Posted by: Anthony Damiani on December 8, 2010 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

gussie: And she's gay. Is this just self-hatred? WTF?

This is news to me. (But I'm not from Maine.) Is there any reason to think this, other than her being unmarried?

Posted by: somethingblue on December 8, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

I am very sorry to the poor senators who slave hard for several weeks each year on behalf of their constitutents, but if this is the way it has to be, then this is the way it has to be: no Christmas adjournment until the legislation is passed or the lame duck runs out. Period. Lots of people regrettably miss the holidays with their loved ones. Unlike most senators, most of those folks cannot have their loved ones flown out to wherever they are to meet them. Our senators are among the wealthiest people in this country and they can easily make arrangements. Or, of course, if they are truly desperate enough to need more vacation time this year, they can always vote on the legislation in advance of the holiday and go home. Big talk? Absolutely. Unlikely? No doubt. However, we know from past experience that when our Congress critters' vacation time is threatened, things happen real fast in the District of Columbia.

Posted by: Perspecticus on December 8, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I too live in Maine and call and have visted her state offices many times over the last 5+ years -- she does not give a bleep about what progressive voices in her state have to say. She pretended to for a very short time when she was running for re-election (by pretend I mean her staff was at least fake friendly), but now -- she does not even fake it anymore. I just called her Portland office, but I know it is about as effective as yellion at the moon.

Posted by: Billyfd on December 8, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

OF COURSE she'll vote for eliminating DADT. How do I know? Because our ace negotiator of a President would have certainly made sure of that during the tax bill discussions.
I mean, he would have if he gave a rat's butt about gay people.

Posted by: calling all toasters on December 8, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

On Friday, Collins had a lengthy meeting with Reid and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), trying to resolve her concerns and clear the way for passage.

In the Senate, does "trying to resolve her concerns" mean "trying to pay her off" ... ? Because, really, DADT is close to 20 years old now, it's been talked to death, repeal has been talked to death -- and is in fact inevitable whether it happens in the lame duck congress or not ... so what "concerns" remain to be "resolved," but for separate pet issues and/or pork Ms Collins can rack up in exchange for her vote. Washington has been all but purged of "moderate" Republicans, and the "moderates" that remain are selfish thugs. I need a shower after thinking this through!

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on December 8, 2010 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans would have changed that filibuster rule long ago if dems were doing this. The senate is functionally undemocratic and no longer part of a "Democracy".

There isn't an ounce of integrity left in the republican senate.

Posted by: bjobotts on December 8, 2010 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Or, he could stop appealing decisions striking DADT as unconstitutional. He's had two chances, and has been quite a disappointment in fighting tooth and nail for the policy in courts both times.

Is there any justification for the appeals, other than so that the Dems could chalk it up as an accomplishment when they brilliantly smashed the discriminatory policy in Congress? Oh, wait.

Posted by: Taruna Oils on December 8, 2010 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK
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