Psst: DADT repeal is still not quite dead
Okay, a quick update on what's going on with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Short version: It still isn't quite dead.
As you know, the news broke this morning that the Pentagon will release its much-anticipated report gauging the impact of repeal on November 30th, one day earlier than expected. It's reported to find that the policy can be repealed with only minimum and isolated risk. So how does this change the game?
The central question still remains: Will the Senate Democratic leadership agree to hold a cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal, and will the leadership commit to a two week period of floor debate? This is key because in combination with the Pentagon report, holding this debate -- and allowing the full and open amendment process that Republicans have insisted on -- could remove the last pretext GOP moderates have to withold their support.
So here's what to watch: A senior leadership aide tells me the final decision on whether to hold that cloture vote and open debate will likely be made later next week. That's because Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, has said he will hold hearings later next week on the released Pentagon report. The Senate Dem leadership intends to watch closely how the moderate GOP Senators publicly react to the Pentagon report in those hearings. If they seem to be softening, the prospect of getting 60 votes for repeal increases -- this is a real possibility, as far-fetched as it may seem -- which would ratchet up the pressure on Senate Dems to allow the cloture vote and agree to the protracted floor debate.
So that's where we are. Repeal isn't quite dead yet. But if it's going to happen, it will only be because the Senate leadership tries to make it happen.
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