This evening, the Senate failed to invoke cloture and proceed to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the measure which contains the amendment to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Afterwards, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) announced that they would offer a stand-alone DADT measure. Lieberman also said that he has a commitment from Reid to bring up the bill before the end of the year.
The vote on the National Defense Authorization Act failed after days of negotiations between Collins and Reid on the number of amendments that would be allowed under a “reasonable” framework of debate. Talks appeared to break down this afternoon as Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the floor without first notifying Collins. Reid addressed the negotiations of the last several days, claiming that Republicans kept changing the goal posts. He had offered Collins 15 amendments — 10 from Republicans and 5 from Democrats — with an hour of debate for each, but she insisted on more time.
Following Reid’s remarks, Collins took to the floor and explained that she felt “perplexed” by Reid’s unannounced motion. She claimed that the two had been close to a deal and that he was now reneging on that agreement by filling up the tree, a technique that involves assigning all the available slots for amendments. Her main complaint appeared to be that Republicans would not be able to choose their own “relevant amendments” to the bill, while Reid insisted that both parties had to reach an agreement on “what some of the amendments would be.” During the roll call vote, Collins initially voted against cloture but then suddenly and surprisingly changed her vote after talking to Sens. Lieberman and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Unfortunately, she was unable to bring along Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) or other moderate Republicans who had signaled that they would proceed to the measure.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the only Democrat to vote “no,” while Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) missed the vote but announced that she would have voted to proceed to the measure. Watch a compilation of today’s floor activity:
It’s unclear when the Senate will bring up the stand-alone measure, but Lieberman told reporters that the legislation will mirror the language in the Defense Authorization Bill and could be brought up as soon as today.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) also took to the Senate floor to condemn the Senate’s failure and reiterated his pledge to work through the holidays to pass the bill before the end of the year. “I’m willing to stay through the holidays to debate it as a stand-alone measure,” he said. “The vote that we just had means that we won’t have a debate on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”