Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 14, 2010

DADT REPEAL STRATEGY COMING TOGETHER.... I've lost count of how many twists and turns the debate over repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has taken over the last several months. But as of this minute, there's a credible strategy coming together on the Hill to actually get this done.

As became evident overnight, the Senate leadership believes House action on a freestanding bill could expedite the process. While there were some false starts, this afternoon, House Dems made the right call.

A House Democrat on Tuesday will introduce standalone legislation to repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members in a last-ditch attempt to get rid of the policy.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) -- a longtime supporter of repeal -- will introduce the legislation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced at his daily press briefing and on Twitter. Hoyer also said he would co-sponsor the bill.

"I'm hopeful that it will pass handily through the House," Hoyer told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday, "and then I'm hopeful that the Senate will take it up."

The language of the House measure is identical to the Lieberman/Collins freestanding bill in the Senate, which is important to the extent that it will make a conference committee unnecessary.

Similarly, as Igor Volsky explained, the House is likely to send its bill as a "message," with "privileged status," will also help the Senate skip some procedural steps and expedite the process.

The schedule is still unclear, but the House could act quite quickly, possibly as early as today. But as Greg Sargent notes, House Dems, among others, are looking for some reassurances from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that the Senate will follow up if the House acts.

Senate aides involved in the discussions want Reid to make it clear that this vote is a certainty before the end of the lame duck session, not just something on the wish list. They want the White House to urge Reid to commit. They point out that repeal got a major reprieve today, when the House agreed to introduce its own bill -- and they want Reid and the White House to capitalize on this momentum. [...]

All indications are that Reid genuinely wants repeal to happen. Indeed, aides say he is the one who asked House Dems to hold their own vote, to make it easier for the Senate to move. But if repeal is going to have any chance, it would be helpful if Reid would indicate right now that it's definitely going to happen.

The magic number, for those keeping score, is two. Last week, repeal had 57 votes, which would have been 58 had Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) not been stuck at the dentist's office. That includes Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

So, to get this done, repeal proponents need two more votes. They're likely to come from some combination of Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), and possibly Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), if they're to be found at all.

Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) appears convinced that the votes are there, and I've heard from a variety of folks who actually sound optimistic. We'll know more soon.

Steve Benen 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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Snowe hasn't said no and she's a possibility, too.

Posted by: Amie on December 14, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Be still my beating heart!

Could this actually happen? Could Congress end the year by actually getting something right and passing what history would likely judge as one of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation of this generation?

Posted by: K in VA on December 14, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

I must be missing something here. DADT repeal failed in the Senate because of some seemingly irrational line-in-the-sand drawn by Mitch McConnell. So what has changed? If anything, the Defense authorization bill did give some cover to senators squeamish about pissing off their chickenhawk teabaggers. How does a stand-alone bill allay their anxieties, assuage McConnell, and somehow allows a victory for Obama? Was all of this sound and fury merely another hostage to tax cuts for the rich?

Posted by: walt on December 14, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK
How does a stand-alone bill allay their anxieties, assuage McConnell, and somehow allows a victory for Obama?

Some people who would like to vote against DADT repeal may be more inclined to let it go to the floor in standalone bill that they can vote against, than to let a Defense Authorization bill go to the floor that includes DADT repeal, where they would be forced either to vote for DADT repeal or against the broader Defense Authorization.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 14, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

It would be nice to see this common sense legislation get passed so we could just freaking move on. Though of course all the neanderthals on the right will continue to hyperventilate over it.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 14, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

What's up with Lieberman? Is he trying to develop some progressive bonafides in an attempt to keep his seat in 2012?

Posted by: Chuchundra on December 14, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK


Lieberman is generally an ass, true, but his record on gay rights is pretty good, and I've never seen any reason to doubt his sincerity on that front.

Otherwise, though, he does tend to be odious.

Posted by: K in VA on December 14, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

One Senate amendment on DADT messes up the elaborate dance that has been choreographed. I think the bill will pass, but Reid is in a tough spot; certainly the GOP obstructionists understand that if the bill is passed with any amendments, it has to go back to the House. That may be a problem if the House adjourns.

Posted by: danimal on December 14, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

IF the Tax Cut bill passes the House, this could probably pass on its own, and likely will. The 83 - 15 Vote on the Tax Cut in the Senate leads me to believe that most everyone there is convinced that if this is *not* done, then everything else can Go to you-know-where until next session. For your average American, getting the Tax Cut and/or Unemployment Extension is MUCH more important and Polls suggest that the Average American is *more* angry with the suddenly silent Pelosi than they are with the Republican Filibuster designed to get them what they want, even if not perfectly what they want! From the Average American's Standpoint, why does this need to be done "right now" *instead* of the Tax Cut? From their standpoint, what is important to get done, period? Those of you who don't get it are obviously not headed for a successful life in politics!

Posted by: Clearbrook on December 14, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK


Indications are, despite what you suggest, that this stand alone bill *would* pass, albeit narrowly, if allowed to proceed to a vote. I do not think that will happen if the Tax Cut does not pass first, and may even be held up waiting for Obama's Signature.


Posted by: Clearbrook on December 14, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Don't watch, don't worry.

That's my strategy!

Posted by: Trollop on December 14, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like ol' Blanche was too busy having another hole drilled in her head.

Posted by: nonheroicvet on December 14, 2010 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, what you said about the DISadvantages of keeping DADT repeal in the Defense Authorization may very well be correct, however I would suggest to Sen. Reid that he not change a single item in the Defense bill until AFTER DADT is repealed.
It never hurts to have insurance...

Posted by: Doug on December 14, 2010 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Earnest Likio on March 28, 2011 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK
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