12/06/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
“And cancel Christmas!” It is probably the best line out of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood, and delivered by, probably, the only person who did a good job acting in that rather abysmal movie. Well, top Senate Democrats are making it clear that if they do not get the vote on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and passing the Defense Authorization Act for next year, they will be canceling Christmas. This is according to a Senate aide who told The Huffington Post. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid supports the idea to make lawmakers stay in DC right through the end of the current Congress in order to get the bill passed.
He is also joined by Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, one of the leading proponents of DADT repeal. Lieberman spokeswoman Erika Mansonhall stated “Sen. Lieberman believes that there are at least 60 votes to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year, provided that leadership allows time for sufficient debate and amendments. Wanting to go home is not an acceptable excuse for failing to pass a bill that provides essential support for our troops and veterans and failing to take action that the president, the Secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have called for.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is also supporting staying through Christmas, but it will require that the entire caucus be onboard. Currently, many Democrats have their hands full working on getting the tax debate resolved. Reid’s aide did not have any answers regarding keeping the Senate running, but did not dispute that he supported the notion.
Should this happen, it might force the Republicans to change their tune or even abandon the attempts to prolong this particular fight. The Republicans have been griping that there is not enough time to finish this particular legislation in an attempt to force the Democrats to abandon it entirely. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated that it would take at least two weeks to pass the bill. He cited the ‘controversial’ nature of the DREAM Act and the DADT repeal despite the fact that the only people who are actually opposed to those are his lords and masters at the Family Research Council and the American Family Association. Not even the military service chiefs oppose beginning the repeal process now.
The big question will be whether or not the Democrats can get Senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Lisa Murkowski to support cloture. Right now, they will not without an amendment process that they approve of.