Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 10:51 AM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Despite McConnell's bluff, Senator Collins could still vote for DADT repeal, spox says

By Greg Sargent

As you may have heard, Mitch McConnell sent a letter to Harry Reid today insisting that all GOP Senators will block all Dem initiatives until the standoffs over the Bush tax cuts and funding the government are resolved. The letter, which is signed by all 42 GOP Senators, is being widely interpreted to mean that he's maintained lockstep GOP unity against repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell before the GOP gets its way on the tax cuts.

But I'm not sure how seriously we should take this. A spokesman for Senator Susan Collins confirms to me that she could still vote for cloture for the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal of DADT if ample time is alloted for floor debate and amendments. The spox confirms that she could do this even if there's not yet any resolution over the Bush tax cuts -- in direct contradiction of McConnell's letter.

Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley emails me:

Senator Collins has maintained that the Senate should be focused on taxes and the economy (especially since the tax provisions expire on January 1) and obviously we need to pass a bill funding the government before Friday.

These are top priorities and there is limited time.

However, she believes there is time to consider other issues as well, and she has made it clear that if the Majority Leader brings the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, for example, and allows sufficient debate and amendments, she would vote to proceed to the bill.

Asked for further clarification, Kelley confirmed that this could happen even if the Bush tax cuts have not yet been extended. Collins, you will recall, has long said she will support repeal of DADT if Harry Reid allows an extended and open debate and amendment process. If Reid goes through with this, Collins could very well buck McConnell and vote for repeal.

This is at odds with McConnell's letter, which says: "We write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers."

This wouldn't be the first time a tactic like this from McConnell has failed to maintain GOP unity, despite his threats to the contrary. On Wall Street reform, Dems were able to break the GOP filibuster despite McConnell's bluff.

In this case, Dems have a powerful weapon with which to ratchet up pressure on individual Republicans: Robert Gates. At his presser yesterday, he implored Congress to repeal DADT, arguing that the courts were already on their way to doing this and that he'd be able to implement repeal far more smoothly. Dems can press this point, calling on moderate GOP Senators to do what the Defense Secretary has asked them to do for the good of the military.

To be sure, we still don't know whether Reid will ultimately schedule the floor time. But if he does, it's not impossible that the McConnell threat will be rendered moot.

Someone should ask senators Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe, and John Ensign whether they are willing to rule out a vote for DADT repeal if the Bush tax cut standoff isn't yet resolved. My bet is their answers might be surprising.

UPDATE, 11:08 a.m.: Obviously, Senator Collins could very well hold the line with McConnell in the end and vote against DADT repeal, pulling away the football yet again. The point, though, is that this is anything but assured, and that may well be true of other moderate GOPers, too. And Dems can use Gates's presser yesterday to press the point.

By Greg Sargent  | December 1, 2010; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, gay rights  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The Morning Plum
Next: One Senator's modest proposal: Force Senators to actually filibuster

Comments

Not holding my breath.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | December 1, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I wrote her off for the tenth time today...

Posted by: shrink2 | December 1, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The liberal rubes continue their opposition to reason - and they refuse to recognize reality.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 1, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Why did she sign the letter?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 1, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Why in the world would Susan Collins or Scott Brown go against their leadership now?

The Senate Republican leadership is going to have 47 votes in a few weeks.

So the liberal rubes are completely out of their minds if they think that a few Republican Senators - after this election - are going to go against their party leadership.


It just shows a complete lack of all reasoning ability.


Rubes, rubes, - RUBES all of them.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 1, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

The GOP only cares about taxes. Gates who?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | December 1, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Reid re: McConnell-

"My Republican colleagues...know that the true effect of this letter is to prevent the Senate from acting on many important issues that have bipartisan support. With this letter, they have simply put in writing the political strategy that the Republicans pursued this entire Congress: Namely, obstruct, delay action on critical matters, and then blame the Democrats for not addressing the needs of American people. Very cynical, but very obvious. Very transparent."

How many times do we have to have "the football taken away" before we understand that the GOP Will. Not. Negotiate? The next two years will be a standstill on anything of any import.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | December 1, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Isn't the RINO call working anymore??

The US government is about to implode and go belly-up and all the Democrats do is diddle with the homosexual agenda and tease illegal immigrants with amnesty promises.

No wonder they're getting the bum's rush outta there.

Not a moment too soon!

Posted by: battleground51 | December 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

You're absolutely right battleground ... how dare the Dems consider anything other than reducing taxes on income over $250,000? That will solve everything and they can all go home and enjoy the holidays!

No need to talk about the unemployed ... those rich people will surely drop their tax reductions into the Salvation Army kettle.

No need to talk about START ... those rich people will use their tax break ... well ... Mitch McConnell will write a letter and solve that problem.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | December 1, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

@battleground-

"The US government is about to implode and go belly-up and all the Democrats do is diddle with the homosexual agenda and tease illegal immigrants with amnesty promises."

More Chicken Little whining from the Right.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | December 1, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Noun, verb, START treaty.

Posted by: klautsack | December 1, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Greg and Adam


Why is it so difficult for you two to resist the urge to "cling" to your liberal agenda ???

The liberal rubes don't seem to understand that they lost the election.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 1, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

At some point, Reid should just start bringing up the bills & START II and let the chips fall where they may.

Posted by: jnc4p | December 1, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I don't get it. While I think repealing DADT would be nice, I don't think it has the same priority value as say approving the new START treaty.

Why would you waste time on something you know Republicans will NEVER let you have? Use the time you have wisely.

Posted by: kindness1 | December 1, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The liberal agenda


A football game has 60 minutes. This Congress has had 23 of its 24 months.


We are past the two minute warning and the liberals are behind by 5 touchdowns.


McConnell's letter is just reminding the liberals to look up at the scoreboard - and see the score- see the time remaining and Greg, you and Obama have no time-outs left.


Case closed.


.


Posted by: RainForestRising | December 1, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

To All Liberal Rubes


You do not realize that Mark Kirk was sworn in yesterday - by Court order.

That means the Senate has 42 Republicans, not 41 anymore.


In addition, Joe Manchin is up for re-election in 2 years - don't expect him to vote for any high-profile liberal agenda items for special interests.


The reality is that the liberals need 3 Republican votes in the Senate.


Dream On, Rubes.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 1, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I have been complaining about Collins and Snowe going against their own party on really serious issues for a couple of years now. Then when Brown was elected I thought he might help the Republicans but have found on some things he thinks like a Liberal, also, and it will be really important things that we need every vote for. I heard reports earlier this year and some last year about Collins running to see Obama a lot. Makes her sound like a traitor to the Republican Party to me sometimes. She really needs to just step down and let a real Conservative take her place.

Posted by: egw7777 | December 1, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

All, check out this interesting proposal for reforming the filibuster:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/one_senators_modest_proposal_f.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 1, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I have been complaining about Collins and Snowe going against their own party on really serious issues for a couple of years now. Then when Brown was elected I thought he might help the Republicans but have found on some things he thinks like a Liberal, also, and it will be really important things that we need every vote for. I heard reports earlier this year and some last year about Collins running to see Obama a lot. Makes her sound like a traitor to the Republican Party to me sometimes. She really needs to just step down and let a real Conservative take her place.

Posted by: egw7777 | December 1, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The Party of Hell No.
Mitch McConnell will block everything including the extension of unemployment benefits. I wonder why they keep electing him in Kentucky, where the unemployment rate is 9.8%, higher than the national rate.

Posted by: dricks | December 1, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

@kindness1: "Why would you waste time on something you know Republicans will NEVER let you have? Use the time you have wisely."

Why have the Republicans been obstructing everything?

It's politics. Red meat for the base, try to make your opposition look bad. DADT could potentially have more positive visibility for Democrats than START. Which nobody but wonks and political junkies care about.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | December 1, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

One Senator's proposal for reforming the filibuster:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/12/one_senators_modest_proposal_f.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | December 1, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

It is, at this point, completely rational to question the priorities of our government.

As battleground51 correctly points out we have serious problems. DADT is simply not among them. Yet this is where the "world's greatest deliberative body" is spending its time. No doubt the middle class in America is thrilled that LBGT community is getting a shot at achieving one of their objective. They'd be even more thrilled if economic growth improved, but hey, what do they know? the DC liberal elites know what's best of all of us and that is gays in uniform. Hoo ray.

And I know that battleground 51 is right. Just look at the sneering response from the pragmatic one. No facts, no rebuttal, just nastiness. Clear proof that Battleground 51's point is valid.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | December 1, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

skip-

I can't see how a person's response has anything to do with the veracity of what they are responding to *necessarily*. Sometimes? Sure. But, if that's how you roll, so be it...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | December 1, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Disagree that the DADT is unimportant. The U.S. government should not be involved in bigotry and making blackmail as an American policy. Especially one that tosses out a number of capable troopers. Even if this does not bother you, any thing involving us moving into the 21st century will not happen once the next congress takes charge. Best get stuff in now.

I also get a kick out the right wingers using the phrase "rube" in an incorrect manner. Rube indeed. Even funnier to watch folks come in to support right wing views by saying any point made with "sneering" words is invalid.

Although I have to say I'm glad they read left of center thinking online. That is good. Hopefully they'll change their minds on some things. I'm sure after all they didn't come here to merely spew their propaganda. They've come here to listen and understand. Kudos to them.

Posted by: Alex3 | December 1, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

@skip/battlegrpound: "we have serious problems. DADT is simply not among them."

Or, as Rubin writes:

"The government runs out of money in two days and a huge tax hike looms over the economy. But what are the Dems doing? "Don't ask, don't tell," a settlement with black farmers and the DREAM Act. In other words, they are throwing the final crumbs to key Democratic special interest groups while the rest of the country's business takes a back seat."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/right-turn/2010/12/mcconnell_ups_the_ante.html

Posted by: sbj3 | December 1, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this right.

The Republicans will hold up tax cuts for the middle class, and snub the military's decision to let our gay soldiers serve openly just to ensure that the rich get their taxes cut.

Shows how disrespectful they are of the military, and how little they care about the middle class. These chicken hawks - and the closet cases among them - have no sense of decency whatsoever. Oh, and what happened to balancing the budget? Does that also go by the wayside to ensure tax cuts for the rich?

If the Dems had any brains or strategies up their sleeves, they would have brought both these decisions - the middle class tax cut and DADT to a vote a year ago. Instead, they dithered and dithered in their useless attempts to gain "bipartisan" support for their initiatives. I never expected much from the Republicans, but I never expected such incredible political stupidity from the Dems.

Posted by: jaysit | December 1, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Today, Republicans voted AGAINST tax cuts for the middle class. Democrats voted FOR tax cuts for the middle class. Republicans are holding a gun to the head of the middle class, saying if the middle class doesn't pay up $700 billion for a tax bailout for the rich, then Republicans will raise the middle class taxes. The reason the tax cuts are ending at all in 2011 is because that is the way Republicans wrote the tax cuts in the first place.

This is also about the waste of taxpayer money that happens when a gay soldier is kicked out of the military, nevermind the horrible disrespect to a soldier that occurs when that happens. This is also about an American unnecessarily losing their job, thus it is about jobs.

Over 70% of Americans want to see Don't Ask Don't Tell repealed. That 70% is obviously not just Gay Americans, it is the agenda of the American people to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.

A very, very small but vocal minority does not want Don't Ask Don't Tell repealed. They are trying to shove their personal beliefs down the throat of the 70% of Americans who want to see this law repealed.

Spin it all you want, the fact is it's the people trying to stop the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell who are pushing an unpopular agenda.

Posted by: paulflorez | December 2, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company