By Kerry Eleveld
Originally published on Advocate.com December 16 2010 8:25 PM ET
Senate majority leader Harry Reid Thursday evening scheduled a vote on the stand-alone "don't ask, don't tell" repeal bill, which is now likely to come to vote as early as Saturday morning.
The move came after Reid pulled the omnibus government funding bill, fearing that Democrats could not garner the support to move the bill. Reid then filed for a cloture vote on both DADT repeal and the DREAM Act. (Video of Reid filing here.)
The DREAM Act will be considered first on Saturday morning, according to a Democratic Senate aide. If the legislation fails to reach the 60-vote threshold, the aide said the Senate would move immediately to consideration of the stand-alone repeal bill, which will first need 60 votes in order to move to a second vote that requires only a majority for passage. If the initial hurdle of 60 is met, the aide said the timing of the second vote will depend on whether Republicans agree to bypass the 30 hours of debate before proceeding to the second vote.
Sen. Joe Lieberman reaffirmed his assertion that the repeal bill does have enough votes.
"I am confident that we have more than 60 votes to end this law that discriminates against military service members based solely on their sexual orientation," Lieberman said in a statement.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs also said Thursday he thought the measure has the support to pass.
“I believe we have the votes,” he said in response to a question from The Advocate. “It’s clear that whether it’s Senator Brown or Senator Murkowski or Senator Snowe or others, there is an effort to get this done if we have time to.” (Video of the exchange here.)
In terms of vote count, advocates believe they have at least 59 and maybe 60 votes, if Snowe approves the stand-alone.
Here’s the breakdown: of the 58 Democratic senators, 56 are likely to vote for passage (excluding Sen. Joe Manchin, who joined the last GOP filibuster of the defense authorization bill, and Sen. Ron Wyden, who was recently diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing surgery Monday); but the support of GOP senators Susan Collins, Scott Brown, and Lisa Murkowski brings the count to 59, and most believe Sen. Olympia Snowe will also come along since she has signaled support for repeal though not specifically the stand-alone bill itself. A few other GOP senators, such as Richard Lugar and George Voinovich, are also potential gets.