John Cornyn to vote for DADT repeal?

Sen. John Cornyn

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s decision to accept an award from Log Cabin Republicans — the gay GOP group — in October was likely designed primarily to drum up votes and money in advance of the November mid-terms. And it may even have worked. But who knows, maybe we’ve also been a little too hard on our junior senator. Maybe, just maybe (but we doubt it), Cornyn is starting to warm up to the gays. And could you really blame him after Log Cabin sang “Happy Birthday” to his freakin’ wife?

Anyhow, we can’t seem to get a response from Cornyn’s spokesman, Kevin McLaughlin, about where he stands on standalone legislation to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” which is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate on Saturday. But we do know that Cornyn DID NOT VOTE last week when the Senate blocked a Defense Authorization bill that contained DADT repeal. McLaughlin won’t tell us why Cornyn didn’t vote or where he may have been (at the dentist?), and now we can’t help but wonder: Was he trying to avoid the issue? Does he have mixed feelings about DADT repeal? Is he even a potential yes vote on Saturday? Yeah, right.

Obviously Cornyn is aware of polls showing that nearly eight in 10 Americans support DADT repeal. And given recent polling numbers from Texas on other LGBT issues, we doubt support for repeal is much lower here, even though some might have you believe that.

A while back, McLaughlin issued a statement saying Cornyn felt there were more important priorities for the lame duck session than repealing DADT. Note that the statement didn’t say outright that Cornyn opposes repeal:

“There are a handful of time sensitive issues that must be addressed during lame duck,” the statement said. “A continuing resolution to fund the government, the medicare reimbursement rate also known as the ‘doc fix,’ and preventing every American from incurring a massive tax increase on the first of the year just to name a few. Sen. Cornyn believes these things should be the focus of the lame duck session.”

Two of the issues mentioned in Cornyn’s statement — Bush-era tax cuts and the “doc fix” — have now passed the Senate. Meanwhile, the omnibus spending bill containing government funding was abruptly pulled from the floor last night due to opposition over earmarks ($16 million worth of which were inserted by Cornyn). Now, the Senate is expected to vote today on a short-term resolution that would fund the government until Feb. 18.

In June, Cornyn said he didn’t believe the Senate should act on DADT repeal until the Pentagon study was complete. Then, after the study was released and showed strong support for DADT repeal, he issued the above statement. So, we’re just wondering, what will be his new excuse? At least his counterpart, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, has the guts to take a position and state it for the record.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Senate may vote on DADT today

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this morning that he’s likely to bring the Defense Authorization bill containing a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” back to the Senate floor sometime later today, according to the above video posted by Wonk Room. It remains unclear, however, whether there are enough votes to break a Republican-led filibuster. And even if the 60 votes are there to proceed to debate on the bill, that doesn’t guarantee its passage. Roll Call reports:

But even if he does have the votes, Reid could be forced to drop the issue altogether once his Caucus comes to terms with the tax cut deal. With less than two weeks until the Senate is expected to adjourn, Republican opponents could drag out the DADT debate for days, eating up time needed to pass the tax cuts and continuing resolution before Christmas.

From Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network:

“We expect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will try again today to take up the defense bill that includes repeal. Reid is actively reaching out to his Republican colleagues to reach an agreement on how to proceed. We also know from Hill sources the President is actively working today’s vote with key Republican senators. Today the Senate has an opportunity to make the nation’s defense funding and our service members a higher priority than tax cuts for millionaires.”

UPDATE: Equality Texas has sent out an Action Alert asking people to call Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and urge her to vote for DADT repeal. The number is 202-224-5922.

—  John Wright

SHOCKER: With Pentagon study complete, Sen. Cornyn has new excuse for opposing DADT repeal

Sen. John Cornyn

With the Pentagon study on repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” to be released today, we inquired of Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s office whether he believes it would now be prudent to move forward on this issue during the lame duck session of Congress. After all, Cornyn told us in June he didn’t believe Congress should act on DADT repeal until the study was complete.

Here’s the response we received moments ago from Cornyn spokesman Kevin McClaughlin:

“There are a handful of time sensitive issues that must be addressed during lame duck. A continuing resolution to fund the government, the medicare reimbursement rate also known as the ‘doc fix,’ and preventing every American from incurring a massive tax increase on the first of the year just to name a few. Sen. Cornyn believes these things should be the focus of the lame duck session.’

So there you have it. Repealing a discriminatory policy that hurts the military and is opposed by the vast majority of Americans is simply not a priority for our junior senator, who by every indication will be joining his party’s filibuster of the Defense spending bill to which the DADT amendment is attached. A better question at this point would probably be whether Cornyn will introduce toxic anti-gay amendments to the Defense bill if Democrats can overcome the filibuster — such as a measure to overturn same-sex marriage in D.C. If you’ll remember, this is what Cornyn tried to do with health care reform.

We still haven’t heard back on a similar inquiry to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office, but don’t get your hopes up.

—  John Wright