"Staffers" quoted anonymously by various news outlets about the chances of passage for any consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act prompted a critical reaction from one of the prominent supporters of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).
After a report from National Journal -- referenced earlier at Metro Weekly -- this morning noted that "several congressional aides" said the National Defense Authorization Act containing DADT repeal "appears likely to be successfully filibustered," Lieberman issued a statement stating, "Senator [Susan] Collins [(R-Maine)] has been working in good faith to achieve an agreement on the process to move forward with the defense bill that contains the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' I categorically reject reports by uninformed staffers who have suggested otherwise."
While not disputing that, Clarke Cooper, the executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, told Metro Weekly, "I've communicated with twenty Republican Senate offices today. All were surprised about the announcement for a cloture vote this evening and all were understandably interested to see if the Majority Leader would make room for Republican amendments on the NDAA."
Cooper later confirmed that his assessment included communication with the offices of Sens. Collins and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), both of whom have expressed support for the repeal of DADT.
Lieberman, who has been saying for weeks that he believes the votes for repeal exist, said of Collins's work on the issue, "As she always does, Senator Collins is working diligently and across party lines to find solutions to the challenges that confront our country. I call on those responsible for such baseless allegations to stop immediately and instead work to get to an agreement to bring this critical bill to the floor for Senate action."
Cooper "concur[red]" with Lieberman's assessment, adding, "Sen. Collins has been and remains the tip of the spear for pro-repeal Republicans."
[UPDATE @ 3:25/3:35 PM: National Journal's Marc Ambinder reports: "A few GOPers have privately indicated that they'll vote to open debate ... so long as another GOPer goes first." Among those could be Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who The Daily Caller's Chris Moody reports is considering voting to proceed to debate on the NDAA. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, meanwhile, confirmed from her spokeswoman that Murkowski now supports DADT repeal.
After reviewing the DOD report and the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, I have concluded that it is time to repeal the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law. ...
However, my support for moving the Defense Authorization bill forward, which includes a repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, will depend on whether the majority allows for an open and fair amendment process. This is a weighty, policy-laden bill that normally takes several weeks to debate and amend. If the majority attempts to push it through allowing little or no debate or votes on amendments, I will be inclined to oppose those efforts.
Murkowski's full statement can be found below the jump.
Meanwhile, Mother Jones's David Corn reports that White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said at today's White House briefing that the Senate is "very, very close" to repealing DADT.]
Of the statement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he is "likely" to bring up the NDAA -- including DADT repeal -- for a vote this evening, Lieberman said in the statement, "We are making progress toward an agreement to move forward on the defense bill that includes the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and I remain confident that we can reach an agreement, which is necessary before any vote on the motion to reconsider is taken. I am working closely with Senator Reid and Senator Collins and other members who want to reach a fair and reasonable agreement to move the defense authorization bill that that is so essential to the needs of our troops, veterans, and their families.
He concluded, "It is now more clear than ever that we have 60 or more votes in support of repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' so it is vitally important to reach agreement on the right process to move forward."
Regarding that process, Cooper told Metro Weekly that "[t]alk ranges from 7 to 12 up to 15 amendments for our [Republican] side."
The secondary issue, referenced earlier at Metro Weekly, is the fact that the tax-cut package -- despite the agreement from the President on the deal that would extend all the tax cuts -- has not been passed and that Republicans said they would not move forward on either legislation until the tax-cut issue was resolved.
Cooper noted about that, "Many offices, including [Scott] Brown, noted the need to complete the tax relief legislation prior to work on the NDAA."
A call seeking comment from Collins's press secretary was not immediately returned.
[Photo: Adm. Robert Papp, Jr., the head of the U.S. Coast Guard, meeting with Sen. Susan Collins. (Photo from Collins's Web site.)]
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Murkowski Statement on DADT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following statement concerning the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy:
“After reviewing the DOD report and the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, I have concluded that it is time to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law. We expect all who serve to serve with integrity, but under current law gay and lesbian service members may speak about their sexual orientation only at the risk of being discharged from performing the duties they have trained hard to carry out. America is the loser when it denies those who are willing to make the great sacrifices demanded of our men and women in uniform the opportunity do so on grounds of sexual orientation. I agree with Defense Secretary Gates’ view that the military can successfully implement a repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law provided that proper preparations are implemented.
“I fully understand that the repeal of this law comes with some reservations and hesitancy among the military’s Service Chiefs. During their testimony last week before the Senate Arms Services Committee, each of the Chiefs expressed concerns over the timing of the repeal and a desire to ensure that the military was afforded ample time to implement service-wide training and policy reviews before a repeal went into effect. I understand their concerns about the implementation of a repeal while the country is engaged in two wars, but through their leadership and devotion to ensuring that our military remains the world’s premier fighting force, I believe this policy can be successfully repealed with minimal risk to unit effectiveness. I trust that the Service Chiefs will develop and execute a plan to implement the DOD report recommendations as well as ensure that post repeal policies and regulations are addressed in such a way that the standards of military readiness and effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention are not negatively impacted.
“However, my support for moving the Defense Authorization bill forward, which includes a repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, will depend on whether the majority allows for an open and fair amendment process. This is a weighty, policy-laden bill that normally takes several weeks to debate and amend. If the majority attempts to push it through allowing little or no debate or votes on amendments, I will be inclined to oppose those efforts.”