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04/19/2007


McConnell, GOP Senators Hold DADT Repeal, Dem Initiatives Hostage in Letter to Harry Reid

All 42 GOP Senators have signed a letter from Mitch McConnellto House Majority Leader Harry Reid threatening to block all initiatives, including the Defense Authorization Act with DADT attached, until Republicans get their way on Bush tax cuts.

McconnellExcerpt from letter from GOP Senators to Harry Reid, via The Plum Line:

Dear Leader Reid,

The nation's unemployment level, stuck near 10 percent, is unacceptable to Americans. Senate Republicans have been urging Congress to make private-sector job creation a priority all year. President Obama in his first speech after the November election said "we owe" it to the American people to "focus on those issues that affect their jobs." He went on to say that Americans "want jobs to come back faster." Our constituents have repeatedly asked us to focus on creating an environment for private-sector job growth; it is time that our constituents' priorities become the Senate's priorities.

For that reason, we write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers. With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities. While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.

****

We look forward to continuing to work with you in a constructive manner to keep the government operating and provide the nation's small businesses with economic certainty that the job-killing tax hike will be prevented.

However, Greg Sargent says that there's a good possibility that certain GOP Senators would abandon McConnell on this:

"Senator Susan Collins confirms to me that she could still vote for cloture for the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal of DADT if ample time is alloted for floor debate and amendments...This wouldn't be the first time a tactic like this from McConnell has failed to maintain GOP unity, despite his threats to the contrary. On Wall Street reform, Dems were able to break the GOP filibuster despite McConnell's bluff...Someone should ask senators Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe, and John Ensign whether they are willing to rule out a vote for DADT repeal if the Bush tax cut standoff isn't yet resolved. My bet is their answers might be surprising."


All Eyes on DADT Repeal as Senate Prepares to Debate, Vote

Mcconnell

Politico's Josh Gerstein and Meredith Shiner discuss the hurdles "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" faces in the Senate:

Dadt "Republicans are threatening to filibuster the defense authorization bill that contains the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal. The bill could be waylaid by amendments, a conference committee, the congressional calendar or the midterm elections. Then there’s the veto threat from President Barack Obama, who supports repealing the ban on gays in the military but opposes weapons programs in some versions of the defense bill. 'People can definitely not bank on it yet. There really are significant risks that it might not pass,' said Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal, a gay legal advocacy group. Arizona Sen. John McCain, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said Republicans will 'fight every way we can' to keep the 'don’t ask, don’t tell' provisions out of the authorization bill. And Reid didn’t exude confidence that he has the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. 'We’ll sure find out. I don’t know,' Reid said."

However, Politico's Morning Defense thinks the votes are there:

"DADT PREDICTION – The bill may come up on the Senate floor Monday, and there are 60 votes to break any filibuster on defense authorization, advocates of repeal tell Morning Defense."

Kerry Eleveld on Harry Reid and a possibly filibuster:

"Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced Tuesday that if Republicans filibuster the National Defense Authorization Act — which houses “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal — he would file for a cloture motion that requires 60 votes in order to move to a debate on the legislation. Although the bill primarily funds the Department of Defense, Reid said the bill was 'especially important' this year because it would address two issues that were 'long overdue' — repeal of 'don’t ask, don’t tell' and the DREAM Act, a bipartisan measure that would create a way for undocumented students who came to America as children to gain permanent residency through higher education or military service."

Americablog reports that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the DADT and DREAM measures "needlessly controversial" in a press conference yesterday.

Watch McConnell speak, AFTER THE JUMP...

Palm In related news, the Palm Center today released a "scorecard and briefing paper highlighting the key standards it will use to measure whether the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy results in genuinely equal and open service for gay and lesbian troops."

"The Palm Center paper states that 'based on the evidence and data provided by service members, veterans, experts and foreign militaries, the standard of equal and open service in any implementation plan must include three factors: a.) an affirmative non-discrimination policy; b.) one standard of conduct and facilities; and c.) leadership at all levels.'"

The document can be downloaded HERE.

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