Things are not looking good for legislative repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as Democrats are struggling to find votes for cloture that would allow them to move to a debate and vote on the Defense bill, to which DADT and the Dream Act are attached as amendments.
Ahead of the critical vote, advocates of ending the ban on openly gay servicemembers said their best hope for moving ahead with the bill was Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who supports repeal. But Collins said on the Senate floor Tuesday that she would not vote to take up the underlying defense bill unless it was open to all amendments senators want to offer…
“There are many controversial issues in this bill. They deserve to have civil, fair and open debate on the Senate floor,” Collins said.
“I cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that is going to shut down the debate and preclude Republican amendments. That, too, is not fair,” Collins said. “Now is not the time to play politics simply because an election is looming in a few weeks.'
Even as she contributed to blocking progress towards repeal Tuesday, Collins underscored that she still supports doing away with the gays-in-the-military ban. "It should be repealed," Collins said. "My view is our armed services should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is capable of serving our country…..We should be expressing our gratitude to those individuals not trying to exclude them from service or expel them from the force." … "I find myself on the horns of a dilemma," Collins said as she publicly pleaded with Reid to reconsider his stance on amendments."
What would defeat mean for legislative repeal anytime in the near future?
"Gay rights advocates said the expected Senate vote would virtually extinguish the prospect for repeal of the “don’t ask” policy in this Congress. Time will be short in a lame-duck session after the election and some senators may be reluctant to take up significant legislation. With most analysts predicting that Democrats could lose control of the House and possibly the Senate, repeal seems unlikely in the next Congress as well."
The White House, meanwhile, has been silent on Senate debate over the cloture vote. This morning, the White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy regarding consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act.
The part relevant to DADT reads:
"Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces: The Administration supports section 591 as it would allow for completion of the Comprehensive Review, enable the Department of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the implementation of the repeal is consistent with the standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention. Such an approach recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights and suggestions."
In related news, a response from the Department of Justice on the ruling by Judge Virginia Phillips which overturned the military's DADT policy and the injunction filing from the Log Cabin Republicans is due any time now.
Where's our self-described "fierce advocate" in all this? Missing in action, as usual.