Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced the stand-alone bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell yesterday (S.4022) and expects Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to Rule 14 the measure, a process under which the bill would circumvent the Senate Armed Services Committee and move to the floor of the Senate. Then, the big challenge for Reid will be to find the right time (or time at all) to bring it all to a vote, extending the session past Christmas if necessary.
At their hastily-arranged press-conference following yesterday’s failed vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Lieberman and Collins criticized Reid for filing cloture without first reaching an agreement on process and considering the tax compromise. Lieberman announced the stand-alone measure — which is currently co-sponsored by Collins, Gillibrand, Udall (CO) — and re-counted this conversation with Reid:
LIEBERMAN: I informed Senator Reid during the vote on this motion that we were going to do that, and he said, ‘same language as in the defense authorization bill?’ I said ‘yes.’ He said, ‘put me down as a co-sponsor.’ I said, ‘Harry, we’re going to ask you to bring this to a vote before the end of the lame duck session and he said, ‘I will bring it to the active calender under Rule 14.’
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If the Senate overcomes all of the procedural hurdles that lie ahead — Republicans can try to attach killer amendments, filibuster the motion to proceed as well the final bill — the measure should pass the House with ease. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, “[a]n army of allies stands ready in the House to pass a standalone repeal of the discriminatory policy once the Senate acts.” Pelosi could presumably move on the measure within one legislative day. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed the administration’s support this morning, stressing that “The president remains committed to seeing this repeal done before Congress leaves town this year.”
“And I think there could be legislative vehicles that start in the House as a stand-alone [repeal bill] and can withstand procedural hurdles and put the Senate on the record on an up or down vote to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Gibbs said and promised that Obama will remain engaged on the issue.
But repeal advocates will also be pursuing other avenues of action, from filing legal challenges against the policy to pressuring the President to use his stop-loss authority to end the discharges.