Senate Votes Scarce as Gates' Shadow Hangs over DADT Repeal
Defense Secretary Robert Gates' lukewarm reception of the compromise deal on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal and Obama's lack of leadership on the issue may be killing the measure's chances this week.
Levin said he wasn't sure he had enough votes to pass the measure, as speculation surfaced that supporters were still at least one vote short.
While Webb said he would oppose the measure, Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, announced on Tuesday that she would support it. Sen. Ben Nelson, a conservative Nebraska Democrat who also sits on the panel, declined to say how he would vote.
Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican seen by many Democrats as a potential swing vote because he represents the heavily Democratic state of Massachusetts, said he was unlikely to agree to a repeal this week. "I am keeping an open mind, but I do not support moving ahead until I am able to finish my review, the Pentagon completes its study, and we can be assured that a new policy can be implemented without jeopardizing the mission of our military," Brown said.
Obama met privately with Republicans on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to press for bipartisan cooperation in general. According to attendees, he did not raise the issue of "don't ask, don't tell."
Said Servicemember's Legal Defense Fund executive director Aubrey Sarvis: "The door isn't closed, but it's barely cracked."
According to Politico, "The two main holdouts are Democratic Sens. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska."
"Some activists worry that this endorsement will not be enough to persuade members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to agree to attach the repeal to a defense authorization bill now moving through Congress. The change must also pass the House. 'The Gates statement was spineless and maybe not even enough to get the bill through. The administration is not showing any leadership here,' said Richard Socarides, a prominent gay rights activist and former Clinton administration official."