This afternoon, as momentum began to build for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) threatened that if Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brings up a vote to repeal the ban, Republicans would not support ratification of the New START treaty. Referring to DADT a “partisan” and “political” issue, Corker accused Reid of poisoning the well with Democratic “campaign promises” to “accommodate activist groups”:
CORKER: What’s happened is it’s poisoning the well on this debate, on something that’s very, very important. … I’m just hoping that saner minds will prevail and that these issues that have been brought forth that are absolutely partisan, political, issues, brought forth to basically accommodate activist groups around this country. I’m hoping that those will be taken down or else I don’t think the future of the START treaty over the next several days is going to be successful, based on what I’m watching.
Last night, Reid filed cloture on DADT and DREAM and promised to hold cloture votes on both measures on Saturday, before returning to the START treaty. Reid has also promised that he would accommodate six or seven days of debate on the measure. The Wonk Room explains why Corker’s description of DADT as “partisan” is surprising in light of the increasing Republican support for the measure.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) appeared to distance themselves from Corker’s suggestion that passage for the treaty would hinge on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. Both insisted that the treaty must stand or fall on its own merits.
Meanwhile, Greg Sargent has Corker doubling down on the threat. “That being thrown into the middle of this debate is causing many Republicans to want to see START pushed back and candidly is causing them to oppose it,” Corker said in an interview. “This is hardening them against passage of this treaty.”