Where things stand on DADT

WHERE THINGS STAND ON DADT…. I’ve had more than a few concerns about Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) over the years, but when it comes to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” he’s on the side of angels, working as hard as anyone — harder, really — to make repeal a reality.

And right now, Lieberman thinks he’s close to bringing this together.

Senate Democrats are on the precipice of getting a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal past a key procedural hurdle tonight. But key negotiators have grown frustrated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his staff for upping the pressure at a fragile moment, potentially scuttling the deal.

“I’ve been pleading with Senator Reid, don’t hold a vote on the defense authorization bill, the repeal of DADT, until we have a good opportunity to work out a fair process for the consideration bill with Senator Collins and some of the other Republican,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) this afternoon after a Dem caucus meeting. “Senator Collins really wants to vote for the bill with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and Senator Scott Brown is the same and I think there may be at least one other Republican Senator to make that clear today.”

That third Republican has since been revealed as Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski’s endorsement, while clearly conditional on procedural issues, further reinforces the notion that the votes really are there.

The question is completing a process. Lieberman believes he’s close to working something out with Collins. Whether he’s right is unclear — I don’t doubt his intentions on this, but whether Collins is just stringing him along, only to reject the proposal when push comes to shove, remains unclear.

Regardless, Lieberman seems to think it’s critical that Reid delay plans for tonight’s vote. For now, Reid is resisting those calls, the vote is still on, and the pressure among the key players is intensifying.

For her part, Collins, who at least seems sincere about getting to “yes,” said this afternoon that there has been progress as she continues talks with Dems, and her office insists she never asked for unlimited debate — suggesting there may be a number of amendments that would satisfy her demands.

What’s going to happen? Brian Beutler’s report added this quote from Lieberman: “I think we’ve got a shot to come to a process agreement today, which will enable us to have the 60 votes tonight. And if that happens, obviously I’m happy to have the votes.”