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Reid Calls Snap Vote on DADT; His Failure Kills the Bill

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2010

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid made the snap decision just moments ago to call for a cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Bill that contains language repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It failed, garnering only 57 of the 60 votes needed, with 40 voting against. Surprisingly, Sen. Susan Collins salvaged her reputation by voting for cloture at the last minute — but only when it was clear the bill would fail.

Only a complete idiot could not see this coming, given the insistence on a relatively minimal number of amendment votes and time for debate that Sen. Collins was asking for. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted against cloture, meaning that he doesn’t even have the social conscience of his predecessor, Robert Byrd.  Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, Lisa Murkowski, and Richard Lugar all claimed that they supported DADT’s repeal, but they support boneheaded partisan posturing even more. Like I said, only a complete idiot could not see this coming.

I wonder if Harry Reid saw it coming?

Just like before, political gamesmanship trumps sound policy. But the problem wasn’t just in the Senate. Remember, it was President Obama who insisted that the Senate shouldn’t act before the Defense Department’s study was released — a report that wasn’t scheduled to be released until December 1, right in the middle of a lame duck session following what everyone knew would be a contentious mid-term election. This was his brilliant plan, and he owns the outcome as much as Reid and the GOP.

The very thing that was all too easy to predict has come to pass.

Update: In an act that rubs salt in the wound, we have learned that Reid kept his vote at “yes” for cloture. By not switching his vote to a “no” vote before voting ended, it means that he cannot bring the bill back up for a vote again under the Senate’s rules. In other words, while the Senate voted it down, Reid has killed the bill for good. That’s pretty much all you need to know about his latest move. For whatever unfathomable reason, Reid engineered its demise, once and for all.

Update: A commenter corrects me on the process:

This was the vote to reconsider the vote by which cloture on the motion to proceed to debate was not invoked.

(See the senate rule here.)

Therefore, Reid switching his vote would have had no effect- you can’t reconsider a vote to reconsider. However, Reid can simply file another cloture motion on the bill which would require 3 days to ripen, then hold another vote for cloture. This happened back in May on the financial reform bill, S.3217. Cloture was filed, rejected, and reconsideration failed. Cloture was filed, rejected, and reconsideration was then waived as part of an agreement, and eventually the bill was passed.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we’ve got a great bunch of readers. Thanks for the correction.

I would however point out that I do believe that Reid recklessly intended this to go down in flames — or at least didn’t care if it passed one way or another. He knew the vote would be close, but he didn’t even bother to find out if all of his potential “yes” votes were even in the chamber. Sen. Blanche Lincoln was in the dentist’s chair when the vote went down, and Sen. Collins wasn’t even in the chamber when he made the snap call for the vote. If he really wanted it to pass, he would have done what any competent politician would have done and made sure his votes were lined up and present. He didn’t bother to take those minimal fundamental steps, and that omission was unconscionable.

Comments

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L. Junius Brutus
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Reid is such a weasel. With friends like this…

Bernie
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Guys, Can’t the courts do anything for us at this point?

Ray
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Now all we have to deal with is the ceaseless chants of “judicial activism” from every anti-gay group in the country as DADT goes through the courts. Obama and Reid just lost me.

MJC
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Very sad day for the country and most of all for those who serve with honor (and imposed silence) in our Armed Forces.

Collins is a weasel.

IamPosterity
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

I thought the Supreme Court already ruled on DADT stating it as unconstitutional on the basis of freedom of speech and expression!? Did I get this wrong?

Matt
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Supposedly Lieberman and Collins now want to introduce a stand-alone repeal bill.

Normally I’d say that would be good. Stop the posturing and game playing and give the damn thing the straight up or down vote it deserves.

Except that given the nature of this congress, what we’ll likely see is the DOD bill, minus DADT, passed, and this one go
go nowhere just as fast as the last one did.

John
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

I really can’t stand that SOB Harry Reid. He is a miserable failure as Majority Leader. DADT repeal is dead because of him.

Timothy Kincaid
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Interestingly, Collins comes out looking good in this and Reid looks the obstructionist.

Collins played this smart.

She released her requirements (which sounded reasonable to the news reporters), and she pointed out that the other Republican supporters of DADT would not vote for cloture before the tax and budget was settled. And even though DADT is huge for us, most Americans think that tax and budget should be done first.

And because she voted for cloture, Reid can’t point at her as the difficult one.

So while Reid appears hasty and impetuous, Collins only has to say “hey, I tried to help you. I told you to wait for a few more days until we could actually get 60 votes.”

I think Reid was hoping that Susan Collins would play the villain in this game. But Reid vastly underestimated Collins’ political skills.

Timothy Kincaid
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Jim,

Unless I’m mistaken, any senator that votes “no” can bring it back up. So theoretically, after the tax and budget stuff is over, Murkowski or Brown could bring back up a cloture vote.

Amicus
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t share the despair on Reid, fully.

As I understand it, he didn’t say that there would be no amendments. He said that he wouldn’t give up control of the bill, so that there could be amendments.

That makes sense to me, if there is a real worry that opponents will use any leeway to run the clock.

What’s more, there is more than one cloture vote to finish up a bill.

If the GOP didn’t like what Reid was doing, they could have pulled the rug out from under him, later on down the road.

To pull the rug out up front is … arrogance?

I don’t know why he killed the bill (obviously). But, from a strategic perspective, it is one less thing GOP can hold hostage, so I’d look for answers, maybe, in that direction.

Ben Mathis
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Jim, this is incredibly dishonest. The bill failed because of the people who voted No. Period. They don’t need placating, political games, favors, pork, or any other f*ck-all thing to vote for equality.

Mark F.
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

“They don’t need placating, political games, favors, pork, or any other fuck-all thing to vote for equality.’

Oh, but some of them do. You have a naive view of politics.

Randy
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

I can not help but admire Sen. Collins though. With her party’s current hard nosed stance on tax cut extensions she risked a lot of party favor by voting for the bill to go forward. I hate being a pawn in partisan politics, so it is nice to see when someone finally breaks with their party to support what is right regardless (let alone doing it for people like us who don’t usually vote Republican).

Ben Mathis
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Only in America can you blame a person who voted yes, for the failure of the inbred homophobic bigots who voted No.

And I should have known Timothy would use this as a chance to hawk his neoconservative drivel. Americans are re-soundly in favor of letting the upper tiers of the bush tax cuts EXPIRE! And the estate tax-cut is a blatant give away wealth transfer from the poor to the rich. Americans overwhelmingly care about jobs, not granting tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires who hide it away in tax shelters. These mythological “job makers” have been robbing this country blind for 30 years.

Amicus
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

On the other hand, Randy, there is the new, freshman Senator Manchin. Consider that, in one of his first important votes, he voted against his party, against his President, against the military brass, and in many ways against the military, all in one.

Has there been a bigger ego on arrival in Washington?

Timothy Kincaid
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Ben,

You need to remember that this is not the “DADT Repeal Bill”. It’s the Defense appropriations bill.

This wasn’t a “vote for equality”. It was a vote to block any amendments to arms appropriations and accept the committee’s spending decisions without exception.

I would not have voted for cloture without some agreement on whether amendments could be proposed and voted on.

Lindoro Almaviva
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

well, now the Obama administration can’t go to the courts and ask for a stay based on the hopes of repeal from Congress.

I say bring the LCR and their lawsuit back center stage, given the miserable failure of the whole repeal.

palerobber
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

not sure why you’re blaming Obama. the release of the report flipped Senators Pryor and Lincoln, without whom Collins and the other “moderates” would not have been enough anyway. right?

Amicus
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Tim,
Here’s the rule and the answer, *maybe*.

It appears that there is no additional reconsideration, if the first reconsideration motion goes the same way as the original vote.

http://rules.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=RuleXIII

Timothy Kincaid
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Amicus,

thank you. But I’m not sure the link addresses the question. It speaks of reconsideration of a bill which must be within two days of the first vote and which is by a simple majority.

But you may be right

Amicus
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

…also, just for clarity, even though it is _not_ key, it is the Defense Authorization Bill, not the Defense Appropriations Bill. Both do have funding authorizations in them – go figure, but …

Mark F.
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Obama can stop all DADT discharges today if he wants. Does anyone dispute that? Of course, it would be best if Congress passed repeal, however.

Amicus
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

yeah, I saw that 2-day thing too. It may be that the path is (a) reconsider (b) lay on the table (c) motion to proceed [once you are ready to vote].

It was the motion to proceed which failed cloture, today:
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=2&vote=00270#position

daftpunkydavid
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

this is gonna happen, folks. stay positive and lobby your senators and representatives. i don’t think we know the full story yet on what exactly went down. timothy raises good points about there being other things to be considered in the lame duck session apart from issues that are very dear to us and may be less so for the rest of the country. there are a lot of people to please in a very short time. bringing on a deal that would have allowed the professional obstructionists to block not only repeal of dadt but many other bills, i’m sorry but that is not smart politics either.
of course, i could be completely wrong; and maybe we really did get thrown under the bus. but i feel like collins, lieberman, reid are all sincere. i hope not be wrong.

Chris Crieta
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Oh, I DEMAND a tax refund for all the DOD dollars I’ve been paying in the system for something that does not protect me and I am not allowed to serve in. The military is supposed to be representative of the American People. I claim Taxation without representation.

cls
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

It is clear and has been that Harry Reid was intent on making sure this bill failed. He twice had the chance to allow routine debate to gain the handful of votes he needed. He twice made sure that didn’t happen.

This is a set=up by Reid who knew he could make sure the Republican block stayed solid enough to defeat the measure. With no support from Obama, but a few rosy words now and then, it was doomed. And the Democrats are just as much to blame as the Republicans.

Of course the Democrats know the House Gays will excuse everything they do. We’ve already seen that type here — putting party above principles and making excuses.

Amicus
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

I’d love to know the behind-the-scenes on this.

It seems to me that one way to bridge the trust gap would have been to lay cards on the table.

By that I mean, there might be or have been a plan to put the 10 amendments that the GOP wanted at the desk, so the Nation and the Majority leader could see what they wanted to do and how they wanted to spend the People’s time. Why the cat-and-mouse game with them?

I feel deprived in not knowing what was so important. Of course, releasing a list now, isn’t going to help, because it would be suspect.

Curt
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

One Republican voted for the repeal and maybe because one Democrat voted against repeal, it is Reid’s fault. Republicans just want to run out the clock on the session and they are just playing a game. They have no intention of letting this pass. Would a leader McConnell even allow a vote? NO!

Lucrece
December 9th, 2010 | LINK

Everyone seems to love blaming Reid. Giving open amendments would’ve opened the road for Republican foot-dragging.

Guess what? The Democrats answer to many issues with much larger interested and powerful voting blocks than the LGBT vote. Get it out of your head that they would ever risk losing other major legislation negotiation time on a stretched out defense bill debate that basically boils down to sabotaging votes until Republicans get their tax cuts.

But it’s easy to blame Reid, because you’re not the one in his position. As if DADT repeal were a significant campaigning chip– straight people don’t give a damn about it. They’ll show support for repeal, but they won’t lose any sleep if it doesn’t happen, and will gladly have other issues addressed until we die of old age.

Pray that we get a stand-alone bill, but stop with this bullcrap belief that Democrats should ever compromise their whole package just for getting DADT repealed. It’s never going to happen.

Amicus
December 10th, 2010 | LINK

Would it have made sense to announce the possibility of a stand alone bill in advance of the NDAA re-consideration vote?

Kate
December 10th, 2010 | LINK

Let me get this straight…the Senate still has to vote on approving a defense appropriations bill, right? Did they do that and I missed it? Did they separate DADT from the defense budget and pass the rest? If they HAD gotten the 60 votes, would that have meant DADT is dead?…I’m getting really confused, but I think the media is simplifying the focus around one issue – it’s the one most important to us, but I think there is more going on. DADT is NOT the most important issue to the senators, it’s tied up with a whole bunch of other crap they are fighting over. And they are still fighting – almost nothing has been decided for sure.

I’m going to be watching what the DOD is saying and doing in the next week or so before I break out the kleenex, and I’m sure as HELL not breaking out the champagne until I see an unequivocal “DADT IS DEAD – US MILITARY LIFTS GAY BAN” in the newspaper headlines.

Preferably on Fox News….

jim
December 10th, 2010 | LINK

Or: “only an idiot” would think the Republicans would let DADT through prior to November. Perhaps Obama is not responsible for DADT’s defeat-because even when you lose a vote, that doesn’t mean there was a better strategy. Perhaps if Obama tried to pass legislation without doing a serious study of the impact, any such reform would have been quickly as unserious. Perhaps Obama realized that, in an election year, members facing close elections would mostly vote against it; the remainder voting for it but punish Obama with other legislation because he imperiled their re-election chances. Perhaps Obama remembered what happened when Bill Clinton demanded integration as one of his first pieces of legislation (a) he wasted capital rather than building up his credibility as a moderate (b) his credibility being minimal, he had to settle for a ridiculous compromise.

Or we can buy the GOP argument that “someone” (i.e., a Democrat up for reelection) has to be held accountable for Republican obstructionism.

Désirée
December 10th, 2010 | LINK

why are we blaming Reid and not the 60 Repuglicans who voted no? Isn’t that a bit like telling the rape victim she should have fought harder? Blame the people who voted ‘no’ after they accept responsibility for their discrimination, maybe we can pass a little blame around. But this one is entirely on the party of ‘no’

DaveM
December 10th, 2010 | LINK

Jim:
Your “Update” is wrong on several levels.
Yes, Reid voted yes. That’s about it.
This was the vote to reconsider the vote by which cloture on the motion to proceed to debate was not invoked.

http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=111&session=2&vote=00270

Therefore, Reid switching his vote would have had no effect- you can’t reconsider a vote to reconsider.
However, Reid can simply file another cloture motion on the bill which would require 3 days to ripen, then hold another vote for cloture.
This happened back in May on the financial reform bill, S.3217. Cloture was filed, rejected, and reconsideration failed. Cloture was filed, rejected, and reconsideration was then waived as part of an agreement, and eventually the bill was passed.

tl;dr: You are wrong on the legislative process, and should change your update.

Jim Burroway
December 10th, 2010 | LINK

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: we’ve got a great bunch of readers. Thanks for the correction.

I would however point out that I do believe that Reid recklessly intended this to go down in flames — or at least didn’t care if it passed one way or another. He knew the vote would be close, but he didn’t even bother to find out if all of his potential “yes” votes were even in the chamber. Sen. Blanche Lincoln was in the dentist’s chair when the vote went down, and Sen. Collins wasn’t even in the chamber when he made the snap call for the vote. If he really wanted it to pass, he would have done what any competent politician would have done and made sure his votes were lined up and present. He didn’t bother to even take those minimal fundamental steps, and that omisison was unconscionable.

Matt
December 10th, 2010 | LINK

Time to back Feinstein or Boxer for majority leader in the Senate, I think.

customartist
December 11th, 2010 | LINK

In the end, Senators that vote No must know that we will vote against them in the next elections.

Lift a finger. Call your Senators. It costs you nothing!

(202)224-3121

Tell them to “Vote FOR DADT Repeal”

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

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