Reid schedules DADT repeal cloture vote for Saturday

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Thursday night that he was filing a motion to seek a vote Saturday to send the House’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repeal bill to the floor.

Meanwhile, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) announced Thursday night that they will have service members sitting in the public gallery in the Senate chamber until the repeal bill is voted on.

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said this week that DADT repeal has 61 votes in the Senate, but he has not indicated how many votes stand ready to vote for cloture. Cloture is the motion that enables a bill to go to the Senate floor despite objections of one or more senators. Such motions, however, require 60 votes and senators will sometimes vote against cloture even though they profess support for the legislation. That was the case in September when Republican Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted for DADT repeal in a Senate committee but voted against cloture to send the defense spending bill to the floor.

Last week, Collins broke with her Republican colleagues and voted for cloture to bring the defense bill to the floor, but the vote still amounted to only 57—three votes short of 60. None of the 40 senators voting against cloture last week (which includes West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin) have yet announced their intention to vote yes for cloture on Saturday. The three senators who did not vote include two Republicans—Sam Brownback of Kansas and John Cornyn of Texas—as well as Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Lincoln arrived on the floor too late to vote but said she would have voted for cloture. So supporters of moving DADT repeal to the floor for a vote on merits amount to at least 58. One question mark is whether long-time gay civil rights supporter Ron Wyden of Oregon, who is scheduled for surgery on Monday, will be on the floor for a vote Saturday.

Many press reports have focused on Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown after his spokesperson told ABC News, “Sen. Brown accepts the Pentagon’s recommendation to repeal the policy after proper preparations have been completed. If and when a clean repeal bill comes up for a vote, he will support it.” She did not make clear whether Brown would vote to bring such a bill to the floor and Brown is one of 42 Republicans who signed onto the December 1 letter saying they would not allow any legislation to the floor until “until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase….”

It appears the Senate has acted to prevent the tax increase, but Reid pulled an omnibus funding bill from the floor Thursday after Republican Senator Jim DeMint demanded that the entire bill—nearly 2,000 pages long—be read out loud on the floor before the vote. Estimates were that such a read could take more than two full days and nights.

“We’re trying to run out the clock…until the reinforcements get here in January,” said DeMint, in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday.

But Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told MSNBC’s Keith Olberman Thursday night he thinks there’s a good chance for the DADT repeal bill to get its vote Saturday.

“We are overwhelmingly likely now to see the end of this terrible discrimination,” said Frank. He also predicted President Obama would drop his defense of the law in the courts if Republicans were able to continue filibustering against the repeal.

Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking party leaders on the Senate Armed Services Committee announced Thursday that they had agreed to “drop many controversial provisions that were included in the House and Senate versions of the bill” and “move quickly” to a vote on the Defense Authorization bill. The press release did not state it, but a staffer for Levin confirmed that the DADT repeal language was one of the “controversial provisions” dropped by Levin and McCain.

One Response to Reid schedules DADT repeal cloture vote for Saturday

  1. […] Ask. There’s no telling. The Senate vote on repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is scheduled for tomorrow. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is planning to have service […]

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