It can be done, but won’t be easy:
Initiated by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) a day after supporters of repeal saw their efforts defeated for the second time this year, the new bill uses the same language that had been tucked into the defense authorization bill.
The defense bill failed in a procedural vote on Thursday, which frustrated supporters who said the defeat was the result of bad timing rather than a lack of votes. They sharply criticized Majority Leader Sen. Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) – who is racing through a packed legislative agenda as the congressional clock winds down – for moving prematurely. A similar attempt failed in September.
Friday’s bill is a Hail Mary. Several Democratic senators are cosponsoring the new measure, and while Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) – key potential GOP votes – remain supportive of ending the ban, they are not expected to cosponsor it, according to Senate aides. The aides asked their names be withheld because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.
It is a “Hail Mary.” But, sometimes Hail Mary passes actually work (Sports reference here: I remember watching Doug Flutie’s famous “Hail Mary” pass back in November of 1984.)
For success, everything has to go like clockwork. There can be no protracted discussion about amendments or time for debate. It’s got to be simple: The sponsors file cloture and there’s a vote. Collins and her colleagues can’t complain and whine when Democrats “fill the amendment tree.” They’ve got to agree to a seamless process in order to get an up-or-down vote in the Senate.
Collins has to bring Brown and Murkowski along. Those GOPers have to withstand the pressure from their leader, Mitch McConnell, and the volatile John McCain. The Republicans are in no mood to give Obama a win here.
If you start hearing that one of the GOP Senators needs time to offer amendments or isn’t happy with the process or needs to wail til something else passes on the Senate floor, this new bill won’t move. Since we’re using sports metaphors, Collins is not calling the plays. We’re in overtime.