Lieberman: Senate Has 61 Votes to Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Posted: Dec 16, 2010 11:22 AM
The House passed a stand-alone repeal of DADT yesterday (and the tally wasn't close), so attention again shifts over to the Senate, which last week shot down a repeal measure tethered to the 2011 defense authorization bill.  Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have led an effort to revisit the question as an independent proposition, and the upper chamber may vote on the question before the end of the year.  Lieberman says his whip count shows 61 senators in favor of repeal, including four Republicans: Collins and Snowe of Maine, Murkowski of Alaska, and Brown of Massachusetts.  He states his case for swift action to rectify the "injustice" of the current policy here:

Part of the problem for Democrats is that even though several Republicans support the idea of repealing DADT, every last one of them also signed a letter pledging to filibuster any legislation until the Bush tax rates are extended and the federal government is funded.  The first question is sitting in the lap of House Democrats, who, in a role reversal, have thus far failed to follow through on the Senate's action.  The second issue is has become a hot topic after the GOP got a gander at the jaw-dropping omnibus behemoth Democrats introduced earlier in the week.  Lieberman can blame the DADT delay on Republican obstructionism until he's blue in the face, but his frustration would be more aptly directed at Harry Reid and his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee.  They're the ones who decided it would be a good idea to cook up a hugely expensive, last minute omnibus that has enraged and united Republicans.

If repealing DADT were Democrats' top priority, they'd simply file and pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through the next few weeks, and cede the task of crafting a more comprehensive funding mechanism to the next Congress.  Once House Democrats cave -- and they will -- on the tax deal, the Senate would then be free to repeal away.  But axing DADT is a secondary, or even tertiary, goal for Democrats.  As much as they court the gay vote (and a lot of gay voters aren't wooed), gay rights -- and everything else, for that matter -- will always take a back seat to Democrats' all-consuming priority: Growing government through massive spending and higher taxation.

Some social conservatives are urging Republicans to block any stand-alone consideration of a DADT repeal, indicating that both sides know the votes are there if the question comes to the floor.  This must not happen, former Concerned Women for America president and Fox News contributor Sandy Rios* argues in her recent Townhall column:

Senators and Congressmen should listen carefully to what other seasoned military leaders are saying rather than political appointees. Consider the following:

“This is not the time to perturb the force that is, at the moment, stretched by demands in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere without careful deliberation.” General Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff.

1,667 distinguished retired generals and admirals, including 51 who have achieved four-star rank and two Medal of Honor winners signed the following statement:

Misguided predictions of certain success for an unprecedented social experiment in the American military are based on theories that disregard decades of military experience and what we know about human imperfection. They cannot be justified in terms of military necessity. The cumulative burden of predictable issues and problems requiring identification and ‘mitigation’ should current law be repealed, would be complicated and problematic for military commanders and personnel at all levels.

Senators and Congressmen…please say “no” to the hurried repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Our men and women are on the field of battle right now showing courage in the face of incredible odds. Can you not do the same?

*Disclosure: I worked for Sandy in Chicago for two years before joining Townhall.