Moving on DADT tonight

MOVING ON DADT TONIGHT…. Given the very crowded lame-duck schedule, the concern has been that the Senate would wrap up for the year without setting aside time for the defense authorization act, which includes a provision on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I’ve been pushing for the Senate to stay in session, and to keep working on this, until it’s done.

It came as quite a surprise, then, to learn that the issue is set to move tonight.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will offer a motion to reconsider a Defense Authorization bill that includes a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell “this evening,” Reid said this morning.

That bill appears likely to be successfully filibustered by Senate Republicans, however, several congressional aides said. GOP moderates have insisted on an open amendment process, which Reid appears unlikely to grant. Defeat of the bill could open the door to move a “stripped down,” version of the measure without the repeal of the law on gays in the military, said one source familiar with talks on the bill.

Reid’s decision to move on this may or may not be good news.

The optimistic scenario: Reid has talked to some GOP moderates and finally secured the votes needed to overcome the Republican filibuster. He’s acting tonight because he found a window of opportunity, and he doesn’t want to let it slip away.

The pessimistic scenario: Reid doesn’t have the votes. He’s starting the process tonight, but Republican objections will be insurmountable, and that will be that.

I guess we’ll see soon enough. Tonight’s motion to reconsider effectively starts the clock that could, in theory, lead to a final vote over the weekend. But procedurally, a lot would have to fall into place in order to make that happen.

For what it’s worth, Sen. Mark Pryor (D) of Arkansas, a conservative Dems who’s long opposed DADT repeal, announced this morning that he will do the right thing and “accept the Pentagon’s recommendations.”

Pryor isn’t necessarily known for sticking his neck out on progressive issues, so I’d like to think this is a good sign.