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Did Harry Reid Just Kill Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell Repeal?



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There were indications yesterday that Majority Leader Reid had struck a bargain with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, in which Collins would provide a critical vote in favor of the Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell repeal, provided Reid allowed a number of Republican amendments to the broader Defense Authorization bill to which the repeal was stapled. 

Collins herself appeared to be under that impression when Reid moved to the Senate floor just minutes ago to announce, in effect, that the deal was off, blaming Senate Republicans — who’d pledged not to consider anything before the tax bill — for tying his hands. Collins then entered a colloquy with Reid, admitting her surprise at the turn of events and asking Reid to explain himself.

 ”I am perplexed and frustrated that this particular bill is going to become a victim of politics,” Collins told Reid through the chair, adding “I am willing to be one of those 60 votes” in favor of DADT. 

“Sen. Lieberman and I have been bargaining in good faith with the Majority Leader,” Collins said of their ongoing talks on DADT. “I think this is so unfortunate.”

But Reid couldn’t be moved. He said some nice things about Collins being “the only person I could talk to” on DADT, but in the end he wouldn’t agree to ceding control of which amendments Republicans could offer to the defense bill.

As I write, the Senate is in roll-coll on cloture. It will surely die, along with any real chance of a legislative repeal.

UPDATE: In a surprising move, Democrat Manchin (W.V.) votes ‘no’; so does Republican Murkowski (Alaska), who has said she supports repeal. Senator Snowe of Maine is also a ‘No’. Collins is not voting. The repeal is dead. 

UPDATE II: Collins AYE. After that whole exchange, she votes in favor of cloture (and by proxy, repeal). 

Collins wasn’t enough. Cloture fails, 57-40. DADT repeal is dead.

UPDATE III: Senator Lieberman of Connecticut has vowed to introduce a standalone repeal measure along with Senator Collins — as early as today. Lieberman tweets that Reid has already promised him to bring it up for a vote before the end of session. 

Meanwhile, Sam Stein quotes a senior Democratic aide regarding Joe Manchin’s “no” vote: “I would say that if he was somehow the 60th vote, I do not think he would have voted the way he did”

The upshot of this latest is that, presuming the tax deal is disposed of, thus freeing Murkowski, Collins, and Brown from the Republican pledge to block anything that stood in its way, there is still a chance for DADT repeal in the lame duck.

President Obama, in a written statement, said that “While today’s vote was disappointing, it must not be the end of our efforts.  I urge the Senate to revisit these important issues during the lame duck session.”



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