Lieberman To Introduce Bill Repealing DADT

Jim Burroway

February 22nd, 2010

Jamie Kirchick reports that Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) will introduce a bill into the Senate that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on open LGBT people serving in the military. By all rights, this bill should have the wind at its back. A new CNN poll shows that 69 percent of the public favors repealing DADT, including 62 percent of registered Republicans. But in the current political climate in which the minority would fillibuster the sun’s rising in the morning and force the Democratics to consider exempting Nebraska from the earth-rotation mandate, I have a feeling it won’t see smooth sailing.

paul j stein

February 22nd, 2010

I guess the Senate and House of Reps want to piss about the deck chair position while the ship sinks. Let em drown in their arrogance and ignorance. They are replaceable.

Nick Literski

February 22nd, 2010

Lieberman introduced the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act in the Senate too, and even saw that it passed through committee. Then he demanded a cost analysis prior to any floor vote. The cost analysis was provided about two months ago, and still NO FLOOR VOTE.

How can we believe he’ll do anything beyond “introducing” this DADT repeal bill?

Dan L

February 22nd, 2010

It’s not a Senate filibuster that’s the main problem; it’s getting the bill out of committee and onto the floor–in both houses–that’s the hard part. Remember: DADT repeal hasn’t had a vote in the House, which doesn’t allow filibusters. The leadership controls what goes on the floor. Not only has the leadership of both houses has clearly given the priority to other items on the Democratic agenda, they will also probably actively want to avoid a vote on it this year. There are a number of vulnerable red state Democrats that will want to postpone a vote on this, and I have a really hard time seeing the leadership being willing to pursue it anyway.

Keep in mind, it’s not the lack of overall public support for DADT repeal that discourages bringing the issue to the floor–it’s the votes that the issue could cost a Democratic congressman. A vote for DADT repeal is unlikely to woo independent or Republican voters who support DADT repeal their way. On the other hand, a vote for DADT repeal risks alienating socially conservative Democrats in these districts, many of which are probably not terribly enthusiastic about the Democratic Party this election cycle to begin with.

In other words, approving DADT repeal means taking a risk, while inaction is nearly risk-free. That’s why we probably won’t see a vote this year.

Timothy Kincaid

February 22nd, 2010

Dan L,

I think you are mistaken.

The majority (nearly 2/3) of Republicans and Independents support repealing DADT (according to today’s CNN poll). And I don’t think that the other third are likely to be reachable by a Democratic candidate anyway.

Further, this is not likely to be a campaing issue. Running on the “my opponent doesn’t hate gay people” platform is less appealing than it has every been. Even in conservative districts. Even in Iowa, the Republican gubernatorial candidates have stopped pushing gay marriage as an issue, it didn’t have traction.

And I think that Democratic Party activists are far less likely to support, campaign for, walk precints, or staff phones for someone who is not perceived as right on this issue. It very well could be that failing to support the repeal could hurt the chances of Democrats.

Dan L

February 23rd, 2010

I don’t think you’re wrong on the political calculus, generally speaking. But what we’re really talking about is fear: fear about a small set of swing voters in a small but key set of swing districts.

Face it: lack of action on this issue entails no political risks for a backbencher. If they’re in a place where supporting repeal is the politically sensible thing to do, they’ll support repeal and blame the lack of action on the leadership. And who would blame them?

The Democratic seats that we’re talking about are ones in places like rural Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, etc. In these places, voting either way on DADT entails political risks: voting for repeal risks sending older socially conservative Democrats to the Republicans (in a year when they’re already tempted to vote Republican anyway), voting against it risks alienating liberals and keeping them. Even if they’re wrong about this political calculus, the fear factor is hugely substantial. The safest course for them is to take a wait and see approach and avoid the issue, and that’s what they are certainly telling the leadership they want to do. The question is whether the leadership will bow to their pressure.

Personally, I am virtually certain they will. I would be astounded to see a vote on this before next year at the earliest. And depending on what happens between now and then, 2013 might be the most reasonable bet politically. Unfortunately.

Dan L

February 23rd, 2010

Oops, that’s supposed to say “voting against it risks alienating liberals and keeping them *home*.”

Timothy Kincaid

February 23rd, 2010

I don’t disagree with you. Fear is a strong motivator. And you can’t be blamed for your vote if no vote occurs.

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