Politico: Is the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal DOA?

Posted on 20 Nov 2010 at 9:45am

After some optimism that there could be 60 votes scraped up in the Senate, here’s a more dim view of the political situation going on up on the Hill regarding DADT repeal, referring to the ability of Republican amendments to the Def Auth bill that could kill the whole thing even if that filibuster is overcome.

The window for action on reversing the ban on gays in the military is quickly closing, and the path to undoing the 17-year-old law is riddled with roadblocks: a crowded lame-duck calendar, Democratic defectors, and emboldened Republican senators who have no desire to hand a legislative victory to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

…a handful of those 60 votes come with a condition: that both Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agree to allow senators to offer amendments to and have an extensive debate on the bill.

While he fully backs the repeal, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the Armed Services Committee chairman tasked with shepherding the defense bill through the Senate, sought to tamp down Lieberman’s exuberance. Levin doesn’t want to be the first Armed Services chairman in 48 years to fail to pass a defense authorization bill, so he’s concerned about “don’t ask” bringing down his big bill.

…And if they’re given the chance to offer amendments to the defense bill, Republicans could try to insert measures unpalatable to Democrats, including a ban on sending any Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the U.S or tougher limits on the countries prisoners can be transferred to. Both proposals could win majority support in an up-or-down vote to attach them to the Senate bill, but they’d be sure to draw the ire of the Obama administration.

Among the wavering Senators mentioned in the piece regarding the vote on the overall bill — who were against it before or want an open amendments process that can still tank the whole thing — Jim Webb (D-VA), Scott Brown (R-MA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Lugar (IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).
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