The dismal setback yesterday in Senate efforts to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell — despite the support of the American public, the president, military leaders, the House — may not be the end of the story. Now what?
Susan Collins, whose demands for extended debate arguably derailed yesterday's cloture vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (which contained DADT repeal language), is now presenting a standalone bill with Joe Lieberman. No one seems sure about whether the bill has a chance, but Harry Reid is in favor and Nancy Pelosi said she'd get it through the House. (Duh.) Politico summed up what a bizarre turn of events this has all been:
In a strange twist fit for a zombie movie, proponents of dismantling the law emerged from the bewildering defeat on Capitol Hill declaring that an end to the ban on gays in uniform not only isn't dead—but that victory may finally be within sight. While that might be a tad optimistic on their part, the fact that appeal still mustered a pulse was a testament to the persistence of repeal advocates, the political risks even some Republicans see in offending gay voters, and the unpredictability of the closing days of a lame-duck congressional session.
What went wrong? Lieberman had been working the floor yesterday and all this week, trying to wrangle moderate Republicans and get conservative Democrats in line. But in the end, plenty of alleged supporters of repeal, like Lisa Murkowski, Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and even West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin voted against bringing it to a vote.
Some blamed Reid for even bringing it to a vote before giving Collins the four days of debate she wanted. But per The Washington Post:
Some critics will point out that Reid decided he could pass on granting Republicans the extended floor debate they wanted and then shift the blame for killing repeal onto GOP obstructionism. After all, Collins did appear to want to vote for repeal, and her demands weren't all that unreasonable by historical standards. But the counterargument is that it would have been folly for Reid to trust other GOP moderates to vote Yes. After all, they (and Collins) had signed a letter vowing to block everything if the tax cut standoff wasn't resolved first.
The idea now is to quickly pass a standalone bill with the at least 60 votes in favor of repeal — after a tax deal has gone through.
Also yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed his disappointment, again, and his reluctance, again, to see the Ninth Circuit enact this repeal. "My greatest worry will be that then we are at the mercy of the courts and all the lack of predictability that that entails," he said.
So far, the legislative process hasn't exactly been stable or predictable.
Gates Disappointed By Failure Of Don't Ask Repeal [NYT]
Why Harry Reid Decided To Move Forward With DADT Vote [WP]
Don't Ask Repeal Won't Die [Politico]
Manchin Votes Against Don't Ask Repeal Then Apologizes [The Hill]