60th vote still not named on DADT

Supporters of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell are talking a big game now. They say they have more than the 60 votes they need to break a Republican-led filibuster that has prevented consideration of the repeal and its underlying defense spending measure.

But no Republican senator has yet come forward and said, “I’m the 60th vote.”

Two new Republicans do appear to be ready to vote for the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) repeal language, if the defense bill gets past the filibuster. They are Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Ensign of Nevada.

But a vote for the repeal language cannot be counted as a vote to break the filibuster—as Republican Susan Collins of Maine demonstrated in September. Collins voted for repeal in Committee but voted against breaking the filibuster on the floor of the Senate, saying she wanted to be sure her Republican colleagues and a fair chance to offer and debate amendments.

Independent Senator Joe Lieberman said Thursday Collins and Republican Dick Lugar of Indiana are ready to vote to break the filibuster if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allows that fair and open amendment process.

That means the next critical point now is whether Reid and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can agree on how many amendments to consider constitutes fair.

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