For those of us who oppose repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” there was good news and bad news this week. The good news is that repeal failed on Thursday, gaining 57 of the required 60 votes.
The bad news is that there appear to be at least 60 potential votes for repeal, if the Democrats can get things right procedurally before Congress goes home. As I understand it, 57 of 58 Democratic Senators favor repeal. The exception is the brand new Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, who voted “no” on Thursday.
Repeal thus requires the votes of three Republicans. Susan Collins favors repeal and voted for it on Thursday, in spite of becoming upset with Harry Reid over procedural issues. In addition to Collins, Scott Brown and Lisa Murkowski both have indicated they favor repeal and would so vote under the right circumstances. As I understand it, those circumstances involve Reid’s agreement to several days of debate and to the right of Republicans to offer amendments. Reid seems reluctant to agree to all of this, probably because of time constraints. But if he wants to get to 60, it doesn’t seem like he has much choice.
Brown probably has no political reason to oppose repeal. Most Massachusetts voters probably favor repeal, so if anything, the politics favor Brown voting that way.. Brown could face a primary challenge in 2012, but unless the Tea Party morphs into a watchdog on social issues, he’s unlikely to incur its wrath by voting for DADT repeal.
Repealing DADT would probably play less well in Alaska. But Murkowski has always been a moderate on social issues. And having just won an historic victory as a write-in candidate – and not having to face the voters again for six years – she may not feel constrained either.
This, then, looks like a real cliff-hanger.
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