Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) announced this afternoon that she supports repeal of 'DADT' in a statement that read, in part:
“After reviewing the DOD report and the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, I have concluded that it is time to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law. We expect all who serve to serve with integrity, but under current law gay and lesbian service members may speak about their sexual orientation only at the risk of being discharged from performing the duties they have trained hard to carry out. America is the loser when it denies those who are willing to make the great sacrifices demanded of our men and women in uniform the opportunity do so on grounds of sexual orientation. I agree with Defense Secretary Gates’ view that the military can successfully implement a repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law provided that proper preparations are implemented."
Murkowski said that her vote hinges on a GOP agreement on the amendment process.
“However, my support for moving the Defense Authorization bill forward, which includes a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, will depend on whether the majority allows for an open and fair amendment process. This is a weighty, policy-laden bill that normally takes several weeks to debate and amend. If the majority attempts to push it through allowing little or no debate or votes on amendments, I will be inclined to oppose those efforts.”
A vote from Murkowski places the 60-vote threshold within reach.
Earlier this afternoon, Harry Reid emerged from a Democratic caucus meeting saying he intended to bargain with Senator Susan Collins (see earlier post) with a 15 amendment deal. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. Indications are that negotiations are ongoing.
Watch Reid speak with reporters, AFTER THE JUMP...
Added Reid late this afternoon on the Senate floor: "I am working with Senator Collins, Senator Lieberman, Senator Levin & others to try and come up with some way to move forward on the defense bill, but, we'll see if that can be done."
UPDATE: The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart adds:
"Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told me that she is fine with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) offer of 15 amendments -- 10 for Republicans and 5 for Democrats. The only question is the time allotted to debate them. Contrary to the ham-handed efforts by Reid staffers to throw Collins under the bus, she is not demanding unlimited debate time. What she wants is a 'reasonable' amount of time. She'd be fine if Reid were to allow, say, two hours of debate (one hour for Democrats and one hour for Republicans) for each amendment. Collins told me that the time issue is important to her because she is 'trying to make sure the rights of the minority are protected.' Ain't nothing wrong with that in my view at this late hour."
Senate Negotiations Fast and Furious as Endgame for 'DADT' Repeal Looms [tr]
WATCH: Harry Reid Says Vote on Defense Bill, 'DADT' 'Likely' Tonight [tr]
BREAKING: Senate Might Vote on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Today? [tr]