That makes 60 votes for cloture, assuming Reid can keep the entire Democratic caucus in line. I’m not aware of any defectors yet but Tester, McCaskill, Ben Nelson and a few other red-state Dems who are up in 2012 will be thinking awfully hard about this vote, needless to say.
Two big qualifiers, though. Collins, at least, is sticking by the GOP’s plan to vote no on everything until a deal is reached on the Bush tax cuts. Brown’s statement doesn’t address the subject, but since he also signed the Republican pledge to make the tax cuts top priority, presumably he’s on the same page. Until something happens on taxes, then, this is all meaningless. Which brings us to the second qualifier: Will there be any time left in the lame duck to address DADT even after a deal on taxes is reached? Durbin announced just within the past hour or so that he expects they’ll bring the DREAM Act to the floor next week. (Gird your loins.) GOP opposition to the START treaty has been softening too, so no doubt Reid’s going to try to take advantage by adding that to the calendar. Between tax cuts, DREAM, and START, will there be any time to take up DADT? If not, and given the fact that DREAM has much less of a chance of passing than the DADT repeal does, doesn’t that mean that Democrats will have completely sold out their last, best chance at achieving a key goal of their gay base for nothing more than a token gesture to Latinos? Rush should talk that up next week. Operation Chaos II!
In the interest of equal time after last night’s post, here’s vid of Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos politely disagreeing with Gates and Mullen about repealing DADT right now. Emphasis on “right now”: He accepts repeal as a fait accompli, he just wants it on hold until the services aren’t under the strain of combat. (See Levin’s response to that.) The heads of the Army and Air Force agree with him, in fact; the only service branch head who favors immediate repeal of DADT is, er, the Navy’s. Exit question: Isn’t the real debate here whether DADT will be lifted by Congress or the courts, not whether it’ll be lifted at all? The Pentagon sure seems to think so.