Moments ago, citing a shortage of votes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) unexpectedly pulled the omnibus bill off the floor and instead filed cloture on the stand-alone Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal passed by the House yesterday and the DREAM Act. Reid announced that he will hold a cloture vote on both measures on Saturday:
REID: I’m going to file cloture tonight on the DREAM Act, we’re going to have a vote on that Saturday morning fairly early. We’re going to have a cloture vote tonight on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — oh, not a cloture vote, I’m going to file cloture on it tonight. Those will be sequenced for Saturday, whenever we get to them. Following that, I was told by a number of Republican Senators that they need 6 or 7 days to offer amendment on the START treaty.
Reid appears to be following the advise of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who earlier today suggested that the Senate vote on DADT before moving back START. “I believe instead of going back to the START treaty, we should go to the independent stand-alone repeal of don’t ask don’t tell Saturday night,” Lieberman said. “We can get it done by Monday, maybe Tuesday at the latest, and then go back to the START treaty.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent argued that this is the best case scenario for repealing the policy since “[i]f Reid waits until New START is done before holding the vote on DADT, Senators could start going home once the treaty is resolved, dooming DADT repeal.” “By contrast, if the DADT repeal vote is done first, no Senator will leave Washington before START is resolved. So doing DADT repeal first doesn’t imperil START.”
Kerry Eleveld on the votes:
Here’s the breakdown: of the 58 Democratic senators, 56 are likely to vote for passage (excluding Sen. Joe Manchin, who joined the last GOP filibuster of the defense authorization bill, and Sen. Ron Wyden, who was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing surgery Monday); but the support of GOP senators Susan Collins, Scott Brown, and Lisa Murkowski brings the count to 59, and most believe Sen. Olympia Snowe will also come along since she has signaled support for repeal though not specifically the stand-alone bill itself. A few other GOP senators, such as Richard Lugar and George Voinovich, are also potential gets.
,Lieberman sends in this statement:
“I want to thank Senator Reid for his leadership in bringing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010’ to the Senate floor for a vote. I am confident that we have more than 60 votes to end this law that discriminates against military service members based solely on their sexual orientation. Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will affirm the Senate’s commitment to the civil rights of all Americans and also make our military even stronger.”