It doesn’t take two weeks

IT DOESN’T TAKE TWO WEEKS…. Following up on the last item, the concern among DADT repeal proponents is that the lame-duck session only has two weeks left, and the issue may not make the cut. When Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced last week that she’s on board with repeal, the senator noted that her support was conditioned on “sufficient time allowed for debate and amendments.”

And what does that mean? In September, that meant, as far as Collins was concerned, two weeks. If she sticks to that number and the session ends a week from Friday, the fight is already lost — the debate would have to start today to meet the deadline.

But it’s worth emphasizing that these arbitrary lengths of time to consider the legislation are almost entirely made up. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently claimed the defense authorization bill “requires four or five weeks to debate.” He lowered that total yesterday it “typically takes two weeks.”

Brian Beutler explained this morning that this is all baseless.

[A] senior Democratic aide went back 20 years and found that spending two weeks on the defense authorization bill is a rarity.

Since 1990, the Senate has never spent anywhere close to four or five weeks debating that bill. Four times it’s taken longer than seven days — thus approaching or exceeding the two week threshold.

The Senate has spent five days (or fewer) debating the defense authorization bill nine times. And, once, back in the friendly days when Bill Clinton presided over majorities in the House and Senate, it took one day. On average, the process includes votes on about 12 amendments — though sometimes they vote on as many as 20 or 30 or as few as one or two.

This is important, not just to make clear that GOP leaders are stalling in the hopes of killing the bill, but also to remind those Republican “moderates” who claim to be sincere about repealing DADT that these tactics are wildly unnecessary.

If Collins and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) support repeal as they claim to, terrific. They can prove it by dropping demands on having two weeks of debate.