A long shot, last ditch effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell could still succeed.
At a press conference today, after the Defense Authorization bill — and with it the DADT repeal — went down to defeat in a cloture vote, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) explained. “Senator Collins and I, Senator Udall and others will be, perhaps by the end of this day, introducing a free-standing bill — a separate piece of legislation — to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy,” he said.
Senators introduce legislation all the time, so this wouldn’t mean much — except for the exchange Lieberman had on the floor with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“I informed Senator Reid during the vote… that we’re going to do that, and he said, ‘Same language as in Defense Authorization bill?’ I said, ‘yes.’ He said, ‘put me down as a co-sponsor.’ I said, “Harry, we’re going to ask you to bring this to a vote before the end of the lame duck session.’ He said, ‘I will bring it to the active calendar under Rule 14.’”
Rule 14 is a Senate procedure that gives the majority leader the right to expedite legislation.
“As far as the efforts to repeal don’t ask don’t tell, it ain’t over,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman was joined by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), all of whom agreed that, because stand-alone repeal is much narrower than the bulky defense authorization bill, the legislation would face fewer obstacles, and require less time for debate.
Of course, ardent foes of repeal could try to sink it with serial filibusters — they could filibuster amendments, the bill, even debate itself, and run out the clock on this Congress. But if Reid is willing to wait to do this after the tax and federal funding issues are resolved, and perhaps to extend the Senate calendar beyond December 17, it could still happen.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.