Sen. Joe Lieberman said Thursday that repealing "don't ask, don't tell" as part of the National Defense Authorization Act is no longer a question of votes, it's a question of process.
"I am confident that we have more than 60 votes prepared to take up the defense authorization with the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' if only there will be a guarantee of a fair and open amendment process, in other words, whether we'll take enough time to do it," Lieberman told reporters at a press conference, naming GOP senators Susan Collins and Richard Lugar as yes votes. "Time is an inexcusable reason not to get this done."
Lieberman, an independent, was flanked by 12 of his Democratic colleagues -- a core group that seemed intent on urging the Democratic leadership to allow enough room in the Senate schedule for a debate that would be amenable to Republicans. The senators talked about working over the weekends, and Sen. Mark Udall offered to go straight through until Christmas Eve.
Lieberman noted that two items could be negotiated by Senate majority leader Harry Reid and minority leader Mitch McConnell -- the number of amendments to be considered and the amount of time for debate on those amendments.
In related news, last night during an appearance on MSNBC, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) refused
to say if she would vote for a National Defense Authorization Act
that included a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but this afternoon,
during an interview with KTV's Matt Felling in Alaska, Murkowski said
that she would "not vote against a bill that had that repeal in it."
The Washington Blade's Chris Johnson is also reporting that Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) "wants to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and intends to vote in favor of moving forward with defense budget legislation containing a provision that would end the law, according to the Stonewall Democratic Club of Southern Nevada."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, announced he'll bring a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to the Senate floor after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Wednesday's announcement makes good on a personal promise the senator made in July to discharged Army Lt. Dan Choi in July.
"We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so," said the senator in a news release about the controversial law that prevents openly gay individuals from serving in the military.