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DADT updates

Timothy Kincaid

November 18th, 2010

It is difficult to determine exactly how the effort to repeal DADT will shake out in the “lame duck” session. There is a great deal of discussion, news, and movement, and at the moment most seems promising.

The President has finally gotten personally involved (Politico)

Wednesday, Obama – who advocates criticized for not doing enough to influence the Senate vote – called Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to “reiterate his commitment on keeping the repeal of, and the need for the Senate to pass this legislation during the lame duck,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said Wednesday afternoon.

And senior White House staff are involved with strategy

On Wednesday evening, several high-ranking administration officials and top members of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s staff met with gay rights advocates to review plans to bring the National Defense Authorization Act – an annual, must-pass military spending bill which contains language repealing the ban on gays in the military – to a vote in the coming weeks.

Republican Senator Collins and Independent-Democrat Senator Lieberman (the President’s point-person on the repeal) have written to the Secretary of Defense calling for the report on the Military survey to be issued in advance of the December 1 deadline so as to “alleviate some concerns” that Senators may have with repealing the policy.

Collins, who supported the repeal in committee and is committed to repeal, joined other Republicans and two Democrats earlier in the year to block a vote on the total Defense Authorization bill due to Sen. Reid’s unusual tactic of denying the ability of Republicans to introduce amendments to the bill. Support for allowing the usual debate has picked up support within the Democratic Caucus and so is less likely to be a sticking point. (Journal Constitution)

A dozen Democrats and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, urged Reid Thursday to allow an extended debate on the wide-ranging defense authorization bill, which includes language repealing the 1993 law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Lieberman said the Senate’s desire to adjourn before the holidays was no reason to curtail debate and give Republicans an excuse to oppose the bill. Last September, GOP senators blocked the bill because Reid wouldn’t allow the two weeks of debate they said was needed to address such major legislation.

And it appears that if Reid honors that process, at least two Senators will break any filibuster attempt by Senator McCain. (Stars and Stripes)

On Thursday, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., told reporters that he believes at least two Republicans will side with repeal advocates when the issue is brought back up for a vote — but with conditions.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Dick Lugar of Indiana have pledged to him in private that they’ll vote to allow debate to continue on the defense authorization bill, which includes the repeal measure, “so long as there is a fair and open amendment process,” he said.

Also, as a possibility, is newly elected Senator Kirk, who is seated immediately to finish out the term of Senator Burris. While Kirk voted against including the DADT repeal in the Defense Authorization bill while a member of the House, he was one of five Republicans to vote for the bill with the repeal included. And Kirk’s stated reason for not including the repeal was that it did preceded the findings of the study, an objection that will no longer be true for this vote.

And few, if any, Senators have joined Senator McCain’s effort to discredit the report. Democratic Senator Jim Webb, who served as Secretary of the Navy under President Reagan and was the sole Democrat to vote in committee against lifting the ban on open service, gave the report high praise (wonk room)

I can’t, again having spent five years in the Pentagon. I can’t remember a study on this type of issue that has been done with this sort of care. Not even having seen it or knowing the results, but I know the preparation that went into it. So it’s going to be a very important study for us to look at and examine.

The only down side may be that the final report will include the reaction and response of the four chiefs of the military divisions. If they are universally opposed to repeal, McCain will seek to use their opposition as a basis for keeping the policy. However, if even one or two are supportive of the plan for implementation of the repeal, this could go a long way towards providing cover for Senators on the fence.

Another odd selling point could be that repealing the ban could resolve tensions between the government and educational institutions. The president of Harvard, which has banned ROTC since 1969, has invited the military to reestablish a presence on the campus once DADT is gone. (Reuters)

“A ROTC program, open to all, ought to be fully and formally present on our campus,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. She made the comment to welcome an evening speech by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer.

Faust drew applause from the audience of several hundred for the offer to restore the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

So although it is still tentative and a lot could still go wrong, for the first time in a long while, I think that there is a better than decent chance that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be repealed before the end of the year.

UPDATE: Wonk Room is reporting that Republican Senators Murkowski intends to vote for repeal. The Washington Blade has also added Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) to the list of those in favor of repeal; his previous objection was to the timing of a vote before the survey was complete.

Comments

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Ryan
November 18th, 2010 | LINK

I would love nothing more than to be wrong on this. I guess we’ll see. But we’ll need four Republican votes, not just two. And a “fair amendment process” can mean literally anything. There’s a lot of wiggle room, and past Republican behavior tells me that all 42 will wind up voting against repeal in the end, lest they get labeled RINOs and lose their primaries to Tea Party members during their next election.

Amicus
November 18th, 2010 | LINK

2 weeks?

Let the logrolling and earmarking begin!

That seems to be the general way to get things past the full Senate.

However, opening up the amendment process doesn’t seem like it favors DADT.

In particular:

SA 4624. Mr. INHOFE submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill S. 3454, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2011 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

Strike section 591.

[This is an amendment to get ride of the DADT section.]

SA 4625. Mr. INHOFE submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill S. 3454, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2011 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

Strike section 713.

[Section 713 limits funds for use in abortion only in the case of danger to the life of mother and limits facilities to same use plus case of rape and incest...]

Dan
November 18th, 2010 | LINK

Maybe they were waiting til after the election.

Lost Choi
November 18th, 2010 | LINK

Timothy,
Dan Choi chained himself to the White House fence YET AGAIN this week. This silly stunt of his is getting real old. What I find curious is that Box Turtle didn’t cover it, and your DADT story didn’t mention it. Could it be that even Box Turtle is getting annoyed and tired of Choi’s antics too?

BobN
November 18th, 2010 | LINK

Thank you, Amicus! The media keeps talking about the GOP wanting amendments but can’t manage to indicate what those amendments might be.

Stefan
November 19th, 2010 | LINK

“But we’ll need four Republican votes, not just two.”

Assuming Lincoln and Pryor vote to sustain the fillibuster (especially Lincoln), which I think is highly unlikely. I also doubt Manchin will vote to sustain fillibuster as well.

So, there are 56 Yes votes left over from September. Assuming Pryor and Lincoln change votes, we would need 2 Republicans. Collins, Lugar, Murkowski, and Ensign have all said they will vote to break fillibuster barring a more open amendment process. Other promising votes to our side include Brown, Bond, Kirk, Gregg, Voinovich, and Snowe.

Ryan
November 19th, 2010 | LINK

Why are you assuming Lincoln and Pryor would change their votes? And Manchin is basically a Republican. Does anyone know how he would vote?

customartist
November 19th, 2010 | LINK

Republicans will go down in History on this.

Republican House and Senate Members will be held fully accountable for voting against the will of the American People, against the Military Survey, and against DADT Repeal.

They will try to abate progress by overwhelming the process with numerous amendments, but they have had a full year to “debate’ this and all of the related issues. Keeping in mind that Repeal has already passed the House.

Bigots are seen clearly for what they are, and their names will be made public in perpetuity, I assure you. History is already written for all practical purposes. Which Members will attach their names to it is just yet the unknown dynamic.

customartist
November 19th, 2010 | LINK

Keep up the pressure.

Email Congress:
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

Email Senate:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

Call the Congress and Senate: (202)224-3121

*The Operator will direct you if you do not know your representative

*IMPORTANT*
Make your calls and letters to Congress polite and to the point.

Ryan
November 19th, 2010 | LINK

@customarist–That’s what I’m worried about. What’s this full amendment process entail? Is that their stalling tactic? The Pentagon refuses to release the study early, all the GOP has to do is keep submitting amendment after amendment in order to run out the clock until January. There’s almost certainly a catch here. Murkowski has already walked back her pledge to vote for appeal. I just don’t see Republicans suddenly abandoning their principles out of nowhere.

Paul J. Stein
November 20th, 2010 | LINK

So lets see, polite as in “Get your head out of your ass, take a fresh breath, and get on with a FAIR, HONEST, DECENT Military to fully represent the true AMERICAN way of life! Before the comments fly…I was fighting this crap since 1975, 16 yo, personally and in the open!

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