Brown backs DADT repeal

BROWN BACKS DADT REPEAL…. There’s no longer any question as to whether the votes are there.

Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown today voiced his support for a stand-alone repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, bringing the bill one vote over the 60-vote threshold that it will need to reach if and when the Senate votes on the measure in the coming weeks.

“Sen. Brown accepts the Pentagon’s recommendation to repeal the policy after proper preparations have been completed. If and when a clean repeal bill comes up for a vote, he will support it,” said Brown spokesperson Gail Gitcho.

The use of the word “clean” is pretty important — Brown doesn’t want to see a bunch of amendments added to the legislation, which puts him entirely in line with what proponents of repeal want, too. In other words, this is exactly what we wanted to hear from him.

Just to recap, last week, repeal garnered 57 votes. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) was at the dentist, but she’ll be on hand for the next vote, and she’ll support repeal. That’s 58.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said she’d oppose repeal until after the vote on the tax deal, but now that the Senate has approved the policy, she announced yesterday she’s a “yes” on this, too. That’s 59.

And Brown’s announcement this morning makes 60. The ABC report added that Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski is also on board, and while I haven’t seen official confirmation of that elsewhere, her vote would presumably be the 61st.

At this point, it appears the only thing standing between the repeal effort and success is the leadership finding time to bring this to the floor.

However, Reid has warned that bringing the bill to a vote in the Senate is not an issue of support, but rather of time. With just over a week before Christmas, the Senate is only now kicking off debate on the START nuclear treaty and a massive $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill. It will likely be early next week before the Senate wraps up work on those two measures – and numerous GOP senators have voiced stern opposition to both bills, preferring instead to fund the government into early next year and go home for the holidays. That leaves little time for the Senate to pass the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal.

If this effort falls short because of a crowded calendar next week, and senators’ desire not to work the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the response will not be kind.