This post remains on top for breaking news. New Blend content is below.
UPDATE (7:30 PM): From today’s press gaggle with Robert Gibbs:
Q Robert, I just want to make sure we ask about “don’t ask, don’t tell” because there’s a big vote in the Senate tonight. What kind of calls is the President making? Is he talking to senators who are on the fence and —
MR. GIBBS: The President — I’m not going to get into a list of whom, but the President has over the course of the past several days made calls to Democrats and Republicans on two very important issues to him: passage of the DREAM Act and repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.
I think we are — on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” I think we are very, very close to seeing that repeal pass. You’ve had important endorsements over the past few days. And I think, in many ways, as a result of the process and the survey that the Pentagon issued last week, the President is hopeful and encouraging Democrats and Republicans to get behind that repeal.
“And I’m likely going to move to my motion to reconsider on the Defense Authorization Act this evening. Allowing, as I will indicate at that time, time for amendments to that piece of legislation.”
I just spoke with Joe briefly, who has this breaking story of Senator Mark Pryor now giving his support to repeal. Pryor has long on the record stating he could not support repeal. THIS IS BIG.
On many previous occasions, I have said that I would oppose repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until I had heard from our servicemen and women regarding this policy. I have now carefully reviewed all of the findings, reports, and testimony from our armed forces on this matter and I accept the Pentagon’s recommendations to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I also accept the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ commitment that this policy can be implemented in a manner that does not harm our military’s readiness, recruitment, or retention. We have the strongest military in the world and we will continue to do so by ensuring our troops have the resources necessary to carry out their missions. Therefore, I support the 2011 Defense Authorization Act that passed the Senate Armed Services Committee and will support procedural measures to bring it to a vote this year.
PHONE CALLS TODAY COULD BE CRITICAL- so here is a ‘call to action’ list of phone numbers:
This is a list of key Senators. Please call them if you are one of their constituents. Please feel free to share this event with others who are willing to step up and do their part. Call your senator and thank them if they support repeal.
–Harry Reid (D-NV); (202) 224-3542
–Carl Levin (D-MI); (202) 224-6221
–Susan Collins (R-ME); (202) 224-2523
–Olympia Snowe (R-ME); (202) 224-5344
–Mark Pryor (D-Ark.); (202) 224-2353
–Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark); (202) 224-4843
–Richard Lugar (R-IN); (202) 224-4814
–Judd Gregg (R-NH); (202) 224-3324
–Scott Brown (R-MA) (202) 224-4543
–George Voinovich (R-OH); (202) 224-3353
–Kit Bond (R-MO); (202) 224-5721
–Lisa Murkowski (R-AK); (202) 224-6665
–The Senate Switch Board (202) 224-3121
This is a breaking story and will be updated…We may well have Susan Collins on our side:
Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley emails me (The Plum Line):
Senator Collins has maintained that the Senate should be focused on taxes and the economy (especially since the tax provisions expire on January 1) and obviously we need to pass a bill funding the government before Friday.
These are top priorities and there is limited time.
However, she believes there is time to consider other issues as well, and she has made it clear that if the Majority Leader brings the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, for example, and allows sufficient debate and amendments, she would vote to proceed to the bill.
Asked for further clarification, Kelley confirmed that this could happen even if the Bush tax cuts have not yet been extended. Collins, you will recall, has long said she will support repeal of DADT if Harry Reid allows an extended and open debate and amendment process. If Reid goes through with this, Collins could very well buck McConnell and vote for repeal.