Kerry Eleveld’s column this week is another must-read. She deconstructs the current situation with the legislative effort on DADT. As we’ve been saying all week, it’s not looking good:
If the bill is not voted on between next Monday, when Congress returns from recess, and October 8 (a period that may actually only yield about two voting weeks in the Senate) it may still have a chance of passage during the lame-duck session after the midterms, but that chance will be greatly diminished. Quite honestly, political observers of the Hill vary wildly in their prognostications, from “zero” chance to “50-50,” each of which strikes me as too low and too high, respectively. But if nothing else, it’s fair to say the odds aren’t particularly good.
So what exactly stands in the way of this bill making it to the floor? Some combination of timing, strategy, and sheer lack of guts.
Timing: Most Hill insiders believe Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will need about five to seven legislative days to debate and pass the defense authorization bill to which repeal is attached — that could eat up a big chunk of the very narrow window left before the midterms.
Strategy: It appears that Democrats have their eye on pushing one major debate about tax cuts for small businesses in order to score political points before the November election. They’re desperately trying to save their majorities in both chambers after nearly every pundit around has not only put the House in play but also thinks Republicans have an outside chance of retaking the Senate.
Guts: While 234 House members approved the bill and there’s only evidence of a couple of them being targeted for that vote, Sen. Harry Reid seems to be getting cold feet. The only explanation is that he’s locked in a dead heat with Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle and Reid himself was the object of one DADT ad paid for by the Family Research Council.
Could one ad from a fringe conservative group like FRC send Reid running scared? Hard to know, but a Friday Roll Call article noted that the short, monthlong work period might still be too long for the likes of Democrats