Proponents of repealing the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers have enough votes in the Senate to get it done this year. The only thing standing in the way of ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell now is time.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is backing the standalone Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell bill in the Senate, his office confirms to TPM. So is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The pair join Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Olympia Snowe (ME) in publicly supporting the measure, giving it more than enough votes to secure the 60 needed for cloture, the first step before a final vote that would almost assuredly come down on the side of repeal.
So if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can find time for the bill in the closing days of the lame duck session, it appears that the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers would end this year.
The House already passed a standalone repeal bill, meaning that Senate passage is all that’s required to send the repeal to President Obama for likely signature.
Both Brown and Murkowski voiced support for repeal back when the Senate first took it up last week, as part of a defense spending bill. But both voted against cloture on that measure — helping to kill that repeal effort — because the bill was brought forward before the Senate had voted on the Bush tax cuts or the budget. Republicans have vowed to deny all legislation a vote until those two issues are dealt with.
And that’s what’s kept repeal in a precarious position. Without the votes for cloture by the Republican supporters of repeal, the bill cannot move forward. And with the GOP slowing down the Senate calendar this week, time for a repeal vote is not assured.
In their statements announcing their support of repeal today and yesterday, both Murkowski and Brown suggested they’re ready to vote for cloture on DADT repal at the next chance they get. Murkowski seemed to say that the spending bill has to be done first, which Brown didn’t say specifically. But with the Senate debating the spending measure as we speak, Murkowski’s timing demands are essentially moot.
Here’s Brown’s statement, as first reported by ABC:
“Sen. Brown accepts the Pentagon’s recommendation to repeal the policy after proper preparations have been completed. If and when a clean repeal bill comes up for a vote, he will support it,” said Brown spokesperson Gail Gitcho.
“Sen. Murkowski will support a stand-alone repeal of the DADT law,” said Murkowski spokesman Michael Brumas. “With the tax package out of the way, and legislation to fund the government on a glide path to passage, Sen. Murkowski will vote to move to DADT when it is brought to the floor.”
Editor’s Note: This post has been added to since it was first published.