WASHINGTON – Senator Scott Brown said this morning that he would support a stand-alone repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, providing a crucial vote in the effort to allow gays to serve openly.
“If and when a stand-alone repeal bill comes up for a vote, he will support it,” his spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, said this morning.
Brown had previously said he would support repealing the 17-year-old policy, but only after the Senate passed a tax cut extension package and a budget proposal was addressed. The Senate passed the tax cut package yesterday, and is planning to begin debating a budget proposal today.
The House voted overwhelmingly yesterday, 250-to-175, to repeal the "don't ask" policy. Such a repeal had previously been included in a much larger defense authorization bill, but now supporters are pursuing legislation that would only impact the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Senators Joseph Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, have filed a bill in the Senate and it now appears to have enough votes to pass.
Brown and others had opposed the defense authorization bill – which included the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal – on procedural grounds, saying there was not enough time being allotted for debate.
That push fell three votes shy of the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster; Collins was the only Republican to support that push.
But with Brown and at least two other Republican senators -- Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Olympia Snowe, of Maine – saying they will support a stand-alone repeal, it now appears to have enough votes to overcome a filibuster.
The question now is when a vote would occur. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last night vowed to call for a vote before the Senate adjourns.
"The time for action is now,” he said last night in a statement. “We plan on considering the stand-alone bill to repeal 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' which was sent over by the House.”
"But let me be clear,” he added. “We are very quickly running out of days in this Congress. The time for week-long negotiations on amendments and requests for days of debate is over. Republican Senators who favor repealing this discriminatory policy need to join with us now to stand against those who are trying to run out the clock on this Congress."
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.