DADT Not Dead Yet

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Greg Sargent reports that repeal of DADT is still possible:

Very plugged in staffers who are actively involved in counting votes for Senators who favor repeal tell me [] they’ve received private indications from a handful of moderate GOP Senators that they could vote for cloture on a Defense Authorization Bill with DADT repeal in it — if Dem leaders agree to hold a sustained debate on the bill on the Senate floor.

Here’s why this is important: It throws the ball back into the court of Senator Harry Reid and the White House. It means the onus is on them, mainly on Reid, to agree to a two-week Senate debate on DADT, including allowing amendments….The GOP Senators who are in play, according to these staffers, are Richard Lugar, George Voinovich, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. A spokesman for Lugar, Mark Helmke, tells me that Lugar would vote for cloture if Reid staged “ordered debate on a number of issues in the bill.”

There are, obviously, lots of things that are potential agenda items for the lame duck session. And I’m no vote counter. Still, I favor trying to do a deal on DADT because I think it’s achievable. As Greg reports, there are several senators willing to deal on DADT, though the price is high. Conversely, I suspect that the DREAM Act simply doesn’t have the votes to pass. The same may now be true of New START following Jon Kyl’s entirely unsurprising decision to withdraw his support. Ditto for a tax bill.

But DADT is achievable. There may be other ways to cut a deal, but if a two-week debate turns out to be the only avenue open to us, then that’s the avenue we should take. Call Harry Reid and tell him so.

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