DADT repeal strategy coming together

DADT REPEAL STRATEGY COMING TOGETHER…. I’ve lost count of how many twists and turns the debate over repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has taken over the last several months. But as of this minute, there’s a credible strategy coming together on the Hill to actually get this done.

As became evident overnight, the Senate leadership believes House action on a freestanding bill could expedite the process. While there were some false starts, this afternoon, House Dems made the right call.

A House Democrat on Tuesday will introduce standalone legislation to repeal the military’s ban on openly gay service members in a last-ditch attempt to get rid of the policy.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) — a longtime supporter of repeal — will introduce the legislation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced at his daily press briefing and on Twitter. Hoyer also said he would co-sponsor the bill.

“I’m hopeful that it will pass handily through the House,” Hoyer told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday, “and then I’m hopeful that the Senate will take it up.”

The language of the House measure is identical to the Lieberman/Collins freestanding bill in the Senate, which is important to the extent that it will make a conference committee unnecessary.

Similarly, as Igor Volsky explained, the House is likely to send its bill as a “message,” with “privileged status,” will also help the Senate skip some procedural steps and expedite the process.

The schedule is still unclear, but the House could act quite quickly, possibly as early as today. But as Greg Sargent notes, House Dems, among others, are looking for some reassurances from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that the Senate will follow up if the House acts.

Senate aides involved in the discussions want Reid to make it clear that this vote is a certainty before the end of the lame duck session, not just something on the wish list. They want the White House to urge Reid to commit. They point out that repeal got a major reprieve today, when the House agreed to introduce its own bill — and they want Reid and the White House to capitalize on this momentum. […]

All indications are that Reid genuinely wants repeal to happen. Indeed, aides say he is the one who asked House Dems to hold their own vote, to make it easier for the Senate to move. But if repeal is going to have any chance, it would be helpful if Reid would indicate right now that it’s definitely going to happen.

The magic number, for those keeping score, is two. Last week, repeal had 57 votes, which would have been 58 had Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) not been stuck at the dentist’s office. That includes Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

So, to get this done, repeal proponents need two more votes. They’re likely to come from some combination of Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), and possibly Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), if they’re to be found at all.

Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) appears convinced that the votes are there, and I’ve heard from a variety of folks who actually sound optimistic. We’ll know more soon.