December 4, 2010
By Adam Bink
A few new updates on the vote-counting front for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
As I wrote yesterday, Sen. Scott Brown announced his support for repeal, although he did not say if he would vote for the motion to reconsider, which requires 60 votes and is the biggest obstacle at this point. Privately, a source very close to the lobbying process with a pro-repeal organization said Brown assured Republican leadership his commitment to not voting to move forward on anything until the tax cuts issue is resolved remains firm (as detailed in the letter signed by all 42 Republicans). So, Brown remains a moving target.
Simultaneously, Sen. Collins tracks along the same lines with this statement (bolding mine):
“Like our closest allies, the United States’ Armed Forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving our country.
“After hearing powerful testimony from Secretary of Defense Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, and reviewing the results of the Pentagon report, I remain convinced that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” implemented under President Clinton, should be repealed. And, I agree with Secretary Gates that the issue should be decided by Congress, not the courts.
“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I voted, last May, to include in the Defense Authorization bill language repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, subject to certification by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that there would not be a negative impact on combat effectiveness and military readiness. It is especially reassuring to learn from the Pentagon report that, after extensive interviews and feedback from service members, nearly 70 percent say that having a gay service member in their unit would have a “positive, mixed, or no effect” on the unit’s effectiveness.
“Once the tax issue is resolved, I have made it clear that if the Majority Leader brings the Defense Authorization bill to the floor with sufficient time allowed for debate and amendments, I would vote to proceed to the bill.”
Collins voted nay on the cloture motion in September amid the Republican complaints about amendments.
The other update is that according to Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post, the same remains true of Lugar:
In a key pickup for repeal efforts, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, said he supports ending the ban as long as the military properly prepares for the change. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) have said they would support ending the ban if Democrats permitted Republicans to introduce amendments to the defense bill.
We are closer than ever if not there. As I detailed on Monday, a lot of this is up to the Majority Leader, who has control over the amendment process. The process needs to be such that it enables pro-repeal votes to be cast. As Aubrey Sarvis, head of SLDN, told me on on the phone earlier this week:
I think the Majority Leader has to allow for a number of amendments on each side. I think discussions are underway for what that would look like- is it 10 amendments, is it 20, and is it for 30 minutes each. Most people think that would be fair in the limited time left in this session. But yes, I think there has to be amendments allowed on each side. Five won’t cut it. And yes, there’s probably even more pressure now coming from the Republican caucus, coming from Sen. McConnell for his caucus to view this as a caucus issue and to maintain discipline to not allow anything to happen in the lame duck. Fortunately, I think there are several Republican Senators who will not go along with that. But yes, it’s important.
And the rest of it is up to various Senators. Yesterday I wrote about how a vote for repeal and a vote for the motion to reconsider should be the same. That means that Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Richard Lugar are not off the hook yet. I can’t emphasize this point enough. No more process excuses. Not when we’re this close.
Next week, the real push begins as tax cut negotiations continue towards a possible deal that will enable support for a motion to reconsider. Simultaneously, our push must begin on the phones and in districts to ask swing Senators to support repeal and the motion to reconsider. HRC field organizers are on the ground in states like Massachusetts, and other pressure has been ramped up. We can use this weekend, while things are quieter, to talk to friends, family and colleagues and ask them to promise to spend a few minutes helping out. Take a minute and think about all the people you know, and how many would do you the quick favor of picking up the phone. I just dropped four friends in Massachusetts a line, and all wrote back saying they would definitely hop on the phone on Monday over lunch. If we get our straight allies and apolitical LGBT friends a nudge, we can create a larger mobilization. And sometimes the best time to do that is a day off.
Let’s do our part this weekend as we push towards the finish line.