Counting the votes: Enough to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell'?
It appears as if Democrats will rally enough votes in the House to pass a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' The situation in the Senate is less clear, though the bill seems set to get through committee.
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Both Congressman Murphy, who is responsible for rounding up "yes" votes in the House, and Rep. John Larson (D) of Connecticut, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, have indicated they are confident they will have the votes, according to The Hill newspaper.Skip to next paragraph
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In the House, the repeal measure will be presented as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill, which specifies the Department of Defense’s budget. A simple majority – 217 votes – is needed for its passage.
Senate vote coming into focus
The Senate may be more of an uphill battle, says Mr. Neff.
“The House is not the question mark,” he says. “The question mark is the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
Fifteen "yes" votes are required for the amendment’s passage there. Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine may have signaled a turning point when she indicated Tuesday her support for the repeal. Sens. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska, Bill Nelson (D) of Florida, and Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana, have all signed on in support of the bill.
Sen. Jim Webb (D) of Virgina has said he will vote against the repeal.
With Senator Ben Nelson indicating his support of the repeal Wednesday mid-morning, Neff says enough members had given public or private confirmations of their “yes” votes that the threshold had been met in the Senate for the amendment to pass.
With Ben Nelson, “that will do it.... The 15 votes are there now ... that will end DADT,” he says.
The vote’s timing – ahead of midterm elections – is crucial, observers say. Some Democrats who made promises to the gay community may feel they need to them to push through a repeal.
“Timing is huge,” says Aaron Belkin, a political scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “The political environment might become more difficult for Democrats after the midterm elections…. They might not get a chance again for a couple of years.”