Appearing on CSPAN’s Newsmakers this Sunday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) reiterated his pledge to stay in session after Christmas to give the Senate more time to consider end of year priorities like extending tax breaks for the middle class and passing the stand-alone Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal measure recently introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Levin also called on President Obama to use his bully pulpit to keep the Senate in town past the holidays, but lamented that he hasn’t seen “that kind of a willingness to fight that hard” from Obama:
LEVIN: One of the questions will be whether we stay long enough to get some of these things done and I hope we stay as long as we need. There are many days extra if we stay after Christmas, it adds a few days. It would add a few days, for instance, if we stayed in the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday before Christmas. You can pick-up a few days, and if it will make a difference, and I think it can… I would hope we would take those few days and also to get Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell passed. […]
The way I think the President needs to fight is to say that he is going to use all of the power he has of a bully pulpit and urge the Senate to stay in, right up to New Years….that’s the problem that I don’t see that kind of a willingness to fight that hard, where he will take that kind of a position and that’s what’s necessary. The Senate and the House, these are tests of wills.
Democratic Senate aides are telling the Washington Post that a vote on the stand-alone measure could come “late Tuesday or Wednesday, after senators vote to proceed with tax- cut legislation on Monday” but many are also conceding that there may not be enough time for the measure, since “senators also have to vote on a trillion-dollar government spending bill and may also consider the new START Treaty — a bill White House aides privately concede holds more priority.”
The White House expressed support for the stand-alone bill on Friday, but stopped short of calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to extend the session. “The president remains committed to seeing this repeal done before Congress leaves town this year,” said Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who also promised Obama would remain engaged on the issue.