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Collins, Republicans United on Obstructing Defense Authorization Bill, DADT, DREAM Act

Watching the Senate debate over the defense authorization bill has been a depressing experience. Listen to Susan Collins up there at right. She says that repealing don’t ask don’t tell is the right thing to do, that it’s only fair, that we should welcome the service of anyone willing and capable to serve their country. It’s just that she thinks there should be open, unlimited amendments, unlike practically any other bill in the history of the Senate, and that binds her hands. “I cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that is going to shut down the debate and preclude Republican amendments. That too is not fair.” See, official discrimination in the military and limits on amendments (and only temporarily, as Reid has said he would allow votes on additional amendments later on down the line) are exactly the same thing.

Then you have out and out bigots like John McCain barely holding to the pretense of being concerned with procedure and formal studies and the like, coming as close as possible without actually saying it to Colorado US Senate candidate Ken Buck’s phraseology of wanting the military to be “as homogeneous as possible.”

Meanwhile, the Administration decided to get off their duff and send a statement of Administration policy in favor of the defense authorization bill. Here’s the part about DADT:

Policy Concerning Homosexuality in the Armed Forces: The Administration supports section 591 as it would allow for completion of the Comprehensive Review, enable the Department of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the implementation of the repeal is consistent with the standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention. Such an approach recognizes the critical need to allow our military and their families the full opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process through a thorough understanding of their concerns, insights and suggestions.

It seems they favor more the completion of the Pentagon study than the harming of a discriminatory policy. And this is the most they’ve said on the subject in the weeks leading up to today’s vote, despite the razor-thin margins in the Senate.

As Joe Sudbay says, you have a filibuster of the defense authorization bill in the middle of two wars. I’m not asking for demagoguery, but you’d think it would have occurred to someone with political instincts.

Joe Lieberman closed the debate before the Senate recessed by saying about moving to consider the bill, “I hope we can do it this afternoon, but if not, we’ll come back.” Supporters appear resigned to lockstep opposition from the other side on this filibuster. Will they take a political scalp for it?

UPDATE: George Voinovich will oppose the filibuster as well, along with George LeMieux. I don’t see any Republican breaking ranks at this point.

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David Dayen

David Dayen