Despite comprehensive support to overturn the military’s DADT policy, Republican lawmakers have manufactured a catalogue of objections to its repeal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) articulated the latest excuse yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press, claiming other “controversial items” in the defense authorization bill — like expanding reproductive health services on military bases — prevent the Senate from having enough time to debate and “finish” the bill “before the end of next year.” Now, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) is calling the GOP’s bluff on process objections and demanding the Senate stay in session until the bill is passed because, as his spokewoman told The Hill, “wanting to go home is not an acceptable excuse”:
Lieberman, a key Senate proponent of repealing the military’s ban on openly gay or lesbian members, doesn’t want the chamber to adjourn until it’s acted on a defense authorization bill that contains a provision to do away with the policy.
“Senator Lieberman believes that there are at least 60 votes to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year, provided that leadership allows time for sufficient debate and amendments,” Lieberman spokeswoman Erika Masonhall said. “Wanting to go home is not an acceptable excuse for failing to pass a bill that provides essential support for our troops and veterans and failing to take action that the president, the secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have called for.”
The senator also appeared to endorse Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart’s demand that the Senate stay in session in a tweet on Monday.
The Senate’s continued refusal to pass the defense bill this year marks the first time Congress failed to do so in 48 years. Such a miscarriage of responsibility would not only jeopardize a well-supported repeal of DADT, but vital support for servicemembers. But by forcing Repulbican lawmakers to stay through the holiday, the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky notes that Democrats would send a clear message that says, “if you can’t compromise on a fair and reasonable time frame and insist on a completely open debate structure, then that’s what we’ll have 24 hours a day until the very day the new Congress is sworn in.”