The Way Forward on DADT

So what’s the state of play on DADT repeal? It’s still a little murky, but here’s how it looks to me:

  • Today’s vote, in which DADT repeal was appended to the overall defense appropriations bill, failed.
  • Both Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska) and Scott Brown (R–Mass.) say they would have voted for it, but are sticking to the Republican caucus position that they’ll block all other legislative action until the tax compromise bill passes.
  • If House and Senate Democrats will stop acting like babies, they could probably pass the tax bill quickly. They need to suck it up and do so. The tax bill before them isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, but it’s not that bad either — and it’s what the leader of their party negotiated for them. For once, it’s time to stick together and let their leader lead.
  • With that out of the way, a standalone DADT bill has the votes for passage. Murkowski and Brown will presumably vote for it, Blanche Lincoln (D–Ark.) says she’ll vote for it, and so will Susan Collins (R–Maine). Her objection to the combined bill was related to the amount of debate time Harry Reid was willing to allow, but this shouldn’t be a deal killer for a standalone bill which obviously is far less complex than a big appropriations bill.
  • So the votes are there. All that’s left is to pass the tax bill and then bring the standalone DADT repeal bill to the floor. Republicans will obstruct endlessly, but the answer to that is to stay in session every single day if necessary before the clock runs out. Don’t like it? Tough.

This still might fail. Maybe the reactionary caucus in the Republican Party can run out the clock. But if it does, it better be clear that Democrats did everything in their power to pass it anyway. That means voting for the tax bill and it means sticking around in Washington for as long as it takes to send DADT into the dustbin of history. Right now, it’s the only thing they should be focused on.