Harry Reid just went to the floor of the Senate and called the Republicans' bluff with regard to blocking all Senate action until their tax deal was done. It came as a total surprise to Susan Collins, who was still negotiating for amendments and time to debate them. Susan Collins was the only Republican to vote for cloture. All others including Scott Brown, Lisa Murkowski, Olympia Snowe -- all of whom have stated that they will vote for DADT repeal (conditionally) -- voted no. Joining them was West Virginia's junior Senator, Joe Manchin.
Reid's reasoning for bringing it to the floor:
“I have already tried to bring the bill to the floor twice this year. In fact I offered to bring it up this summer with no restrictions. But Republicans refused this request.
“Because my friends on the other side of the aisle blocked both of these attempts, we are now trying to get this bill done in a lame duck session, when everybody knows we still have much to do and that we do not have time for unlimited debate.
“But I have tried my best to find a way forward that would ensure a fair and reasonable opportunity for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to offer and vote on amendments.
“Over the last twenty years, we’ve had roll call votes on an average of 12 amendments during consideration of the Defense Authorization bill.
“So, in an effort to be as fair as possible, I made clear to my colleagues that I am willing to vote on 15 relevant amendments of their choosing, with 10 from the Republican side, and 5 from the Democratic side, with ample time for debate on each amendment.
“Now my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are demanding even more time. The time that they know isn’t available. There are not enough days in this calendar year to do what the minority is asking, and they know this.
“They want the tax and the spending bills done before they will allow us to move to the Defense bill.
“At the same time they say we need to wait, they say they need as much time as possible to consider this bill. It isn’t possible to do both.
“It’s quite clear they are trying to run out the clock and just don’t want to get this bill done. "
Also, thanks for nothing Scott Brown, Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe and Lisa Murkowski. You voted for Senate process over equality -- again. Here's a concept: You can't say you support ending DADT if you won't vote for the legislation that could do it. Manchin voted with the Republicans.
But, this is also a failure of Democratic leadership on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. There is plenty of blame to go around. Let's start with Barack Obama. The President's cracker jack team of political experts put together this DADT repeal strategy. It's been a mess from the beginning. The White House never fought hard enough and waited way too long.
"By voting to filibuster the Defense Authorization Act, today, a minority of Senators have betrayed our troops. Leaving aside 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' this bill is crucial to our military readiness, and funding our troops in harm's way. The minority of Senators can talk all they want about a tax bill needing consideration, but there is absolutely no reason why the Senate couldn't pass this and then a tax bill before leaving for recess. In fact, that has been the plan.
"The only thing we can surmise is that the Senate minority puts politics above our national defense. They just had a chance to vote for a tax cut, and voted no, instead demanding a tax bill that gives additional tax breaks to the wealthiest in America. Now, they are holding the men and women in uniform hostage, to get that bill for the ultra-rich. It's wrong, and it's disgusting."
Yes, it is disgusting. It's really disgusting that civil and human rights are held hostage to this ridiculous thing called a filibuster which is nothing more than a loaded gun held to the head of every single American.
More on why Reid called the vote from Greg Sargent:
Reid concluded that even if Collins was sincere in her promise to vote for repeal if given the four days of debate, there was no way to prevent the proceedings from taking longer, the aide says. Reid decided that the cloture vote, the 30 hours of required post-cloture debate, and procedural tricks mounted by conservative Senators who adamantly oppose repeal would have dragged the process on far longer.
"It would have been much more than four days," the aide says. "Her suggestions were flat out unworkable given how the Senate really operates. You can talk about four days until the cows come home. That has very little meaning for Coburn and DeMint and others have become very skilled at grinding this place to a halt."
After spending several hours thinking it over today and consulting with other members of the Dem caucus, Reid decided to push forward with the vote today, the aide says.
UPDATE: Joe Lieberman just tweeted this:
Senator Reid told me he will bring our free-standing #DADT repeal up for a vote before end of session.
Evidently it is a joint effort with Senator Collins. I'm still not clear on why this has a better chance, but stay tuned.