Staff for Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who Democrats point to as the woman who can make or break Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s repeal in the Senate this year, say their boss is negotiating in “good faith” on a compromise that will allow a cloture vote on the Senate defense spending bill containing the repeal language.
And when I asked whether they were making progress, I was told that “yes,” and that “negotiations continue.”
“Senator Collins is working in good faith with the Majority Leader to come up with a fair process under which the Defense Authorization bill could be considered,” spokesperson Kevin Kelly told TPM. “She and Senator Lieberman met with the Majority Leader last week and they shared with him very specific information about how the Defense Authorization bill has been handled in the past.”
“Senator Collin has never asked for “‘unlimited debate,’” Kelly said. “She and Senator Lieberman have consistently urged the Majority Leader to allow a fair debate consistent with how this important bill has been debated in the past.”
Democrats have said that Collins’ request for a long debate process is “unreasonable,” but Kelly says Collins has countered with claims that defense authorization bill votes have often taken longer and included more amendments than what Reid is offering. A Democratic aide told TPM earlier that Reid is offering Collins 10 amendments, a process which would potentially put a final vote on the bill this Sunday, assuming everything moved ahead as planned.
Yesterday, Kelly said, Collins “asked the Majority Leader to come up with a schedule to debate this bill that is comparable to how the Senate has debated the Defense Authorization bill in the past,” based on these figures from Collins’ office:
The average number of days spent on the DoD bill during the past five years: 11 days
The average number of amendments actually considered: 14.4 roll call votes
Average time after which cloture was filed: 7.8 days
There is word that the still-ongoing negotiations are leading both sides to make concessions, but details on that are still sketchy. As it stands right now, if Reid puts the cloture vote forward, Democrats expect that all 58 Democrats and Republican Scott Brown would vote for it. If Collins joins the Republicans in blocking the vote, many predict that would spell an end to repealing DADT this year.