Yesterday, it seemed like a vote on repealing the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers was just a procedural wrangle or two away from happening. Today, that may still be the case, but it looks like Democrats are running out of time to get repeal done in the structure laid down by Republicans.
Earlier today on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he will “likely sometime today” attempt to move a cloture vote of the defense spending bill that includes DADT repeal — though those close to final negotiations on the bill are telling reporters that such a move will doom any chance for a vote on DADT (for the time being).
Here’s why. Republican Susan Collins (ME) said last night that she would only vote for cloture if Republicans are allow amendments and four days to debate them– and only then if that debate comes after a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts.
Greg Sargent reported that Reid had not responded to Collin’s offer as of this morning.
And, in the tight lame duck calendar, that timing may be actually be impossible. “A source close to Reid” told CNN’s Dana Bash “there is doubt they can ever give Collins the terms she wants to secure her vote,” meaning that the vote will go ahead without her.With the calendar clogged up with the tax cuts, the defense bill, the DREAM act and President Obama’s START treaty — all things that will take days and days to get done — sources tell CNN there’s just not enough hours left in the lame duck session to give Collins what she wants.
“My sense is that they have too much to do and not enough time left to do it so they just have to go with the vote,” said “a senior congressional source involved in the talks.”
On the Senate floor today, Armed Services chair Carl Levin — who has been trying to push through a repeal of DADT for months — expressed doubt that the repeal will happen by the end of 2010 no matter what happens with the cloture vote. The problem, as Levin said, is the amount of time that it takes for a massive spending bill like the defense authorization to work its way through the House and Senate conference process, which creates a single bill out of the two laws passed by each house.
“If we don’t proceed with this bill, this week, then involving cloture sometime next week, even if we could do it would be a symbolic victory and I don’t believe there would be enough time to hammer out a final bill before the end of the session,” Levin said.
Watch video of Levin talking about the defense bill, as clipped by ThinkProgress:
[Ed note: This post was edited after publication]