Earlier tonight, the Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson reported that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will in fact schedule a vote on the Defense Authorization Bill for the week of September 20th, ending speculation that the Senate would eschew the measure to better distinguish themselves from Republicans on tax policy. Johnson’s sources are saying that “Senate leadership is anticipating the Senate won’t have unanimous consent to bring the legislation to the floor, so 60 votes will be necessary to end a filibuster and move forward with debate on the bill. “We are going to take it the floor next week to see where the votes are,” the aide said.
LGBT activists expect to prevail on the floor, pointing to Sens Jim Webb’s (D-VA) and Scott Brown’s (R-MA) support for the overall bill and Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-ME) vote in favor the DADT measure in committee. Sixty votes will also be needed to strike the amendment from the authorization or change its condition. As it stands, the DADT repeal measure would require President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen to certify that repeal would not undermine military readiness or cohesion before the policy can be eliminated.
Earlier today, the Palm Center’s Chris Niff suggested that even the opponents of the measure — like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who was objecting to bringing the Defense Authorization Bill to the floor as of this morning — should (by their very own logic) allow the Senate to vote on the measure. As Neff writes, Congressional action would move issue out the courts (who have been rather hostile to the policy) and bring it back to Congress:
In short, Senator McCain is taking repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ out of the hands of the Department of Defense and Congress and placing it in the hands of a judge whose ruling he opposes. Part of his objection is his concern that the Service Chiefs in the Pentagon have not been consulted more. But just last month, the lead objector Marine Corps Commandant General Conway stated that despite any opposition he might have, the Marine Corps would lead all of the Services in implementation of openly gay service. [...]
Senator McCain has a choice: to scuttle the legislative process and block military input, thus handing this decision to Judge Phillips, or to allow the Senate to deliberate on this issue in the light of day.
Given McCain’s rather moderate past positions on DADT, his ongoing opposition to the entire defense measure is surprising — especially to those who believed that he would move back towards the middle after his victory over Tea Party Candidate J.D. Hayworth. He still has two weeks to do just that.