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DADT, DREAM Act Votes Today

As of Thursday, it was unlikely that either the DREAM Act or DADT was going to come up for a vote in the Senate in this session. Talking Points Memo was reporting that the White House was “stalling the DADT vote” by insisting that the START nuclear reduction treaty have priority, which meant that there would not be enough time to bring it up.

“New START can pass next year; DADT can’t,” said Kevin Drum. “It’s that simple. Repeal of DADT should come first and New START should follow.”

Suddenly on Friday, however, “the Senate went its own way,” reported Dave Dayen. So what happened?

  • Friday morning, Senate Republicans humiliated Reid and Durbin by pulling support for the spending bill. As a face saving measure, Reid got them to allow a vote on DADT and the DREAM Act. Good news for both DADT and DREAM activists. But because of their poor negotiating skills, the Democrats have now given the GOP both the massive tax cuts they wanted AND the ability to control funding of the government.
  • The White House knows they’re in trouble with liberals over the tax cut deal. They’re reaching out to make amends with the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, the Steelworker’s Leo Gerard, AFT’s Randi Weingarten, and SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry. Unfortunately, making amends means forcing them to sit in a room with traitor Hilda Solis, who is trying to destroy them by pushing through Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade Deal. And of course, the White House’s personal labor Chia Pet, the UAW’s Bob King.
  • Even Joe Lieberman was tweaking both Reid and Obama over the failure of DADT to be taken up this year. Lieberman seems to want to use DADT as a way to restore his street cred with liberals in anticipation of a tough 2012 Senate race.
  • On Friday, Lieberman actually started whipping on the vote, something that actually hadn’t been done before. As Jon Walker notes, that’s what “fierce advocacy” actually looks like.
  • If the DADT repeal didn’t come up, everyone from HRC to Joe Manchin to yours truly was saying that Obama had the power to end himself. The White House didn’t want to have to take that step, but they might have been forced to in order to get the issue out of the headlines. The last thing Obama wants is to be heckled by DADT activists on the campaign stump. And given the choice between a Presidential signing statement and a congressional repeal, the Department of Defense would choose the latter. Congressional repeal gives them time to implement the policy change more gradually, and less fear that another administration will come in and change course.
  • At this point, everyone just wants a win, and DADT looks like the best chance they’ve got.

To everyone who worked hard to pass the DADT repeal: congratulations. Your willingness to never take “no” for an answer, to make things extremely uncomfortable for those in power, and to work hard at deligitimizing veal pen gatekeepers who stood in the way of your objective should be a model for all activists.

Sadly, the DREAM Act looks like it will fall short of the 60 votes needed for cloture. If that happens it’s a tragedy, because the DREAM activists have also worked extremely hard at organizing around the issue. I respect them all tremendously.

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DADT, DREAM Act Votes Today

As of Thursday, it was unlikely that either the DREAM Act or DADT was going to come up for a vote in the Senate in this session. Talking Points Memo was reporting that the White House was “stalling the DADT vote” by insisting that the START nuclear reduction treaty have priority, which meant that there would not be enough time to bring it up this session.

“New START can pass next year; DADT can’t,” said Kevin Drum. “It’s that simple. Repeal of DADT should come first and New START should follow.”

Suddenly on Friday, however, “the Senate went its own way,” reported Dave Dayen. So what happened?

  • Friday morning, Senate Republicans humiliated Reid and Durbin by pulling support for spending bill. As a face saving measure, Reid got them to allow a vote on DADT and DREAM Act. Good news for both DADT and DREAM activists. But because of their poor negotiating skills, the Democrats have now given the GOP both the massive tax cuts they wanted AND the ability to control funding of the government.
  • The White House knows they’re in trouble with liberals over the tax cut deal. They’re reaching out to make amends with the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, the Steelworker’s Leo Gerard, AFT’s Randi Weingarten, and SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry. Unfortunately, making amends means forcing them to sit in a room with traitor Hilda Solis, who is trying to destroy them by pushing through Obama’s NAFTA-Style Korea Free Trade Deal, and their personal labor Chia Pet, the UAW’s Bob King.
  • Even Joe Lieberman was tweaking both Reid and Obama over the failure of DADT to be taken up this year.  Lieberman seems to want to use DADT as a way to restore his street cred with liberals in anticipation of a tough 2012 Senate race.
  • On Friday, Lieberman actually started whipping on the vote, something that actually hadn’t been done before. As Jon Walker notes, that’s what “fierce advocacy” actually looks like.
  • If the DADT repeal didn’t come up, everyone from HRC to Joe Manchin to yours truly was saying that Obama had the power to end himself.  The White House didn’t want to have to take that step, but they might have been forced to in order to get the issue out of the headlines.  The last thing Obama wants is to be heckled by DADT activists on the campaign stump.  And given the choice between a Presidential signing statement and a congressional repeal, the Department of Defense would choose the latter.  Congressional repeal gives them time to implement the policy change more gradually, and less fear that another administration will come in and change course.
  • At this point, everyone just wants a win, and DADT looks like the best chance they’ve got.

To everyone who worked hard to pass the DADT repeal: congratulations.  Your willingness to never take “no” for an answer, to make things extremely uncomfortable for those in power, and to work hard at deligitimizing veal pen gatekeepers who stood in the way of your objective should be a model for all activists.

Sadly, the DREAM Act looks like it will fall short of the 60 votes needed for cloture.  If that happens it’s a tragedy, because the DREAM activists have also worked extremely hard at organizing around the issue.  I respect them all tremendously.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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