UPDATE @ 7:25 PM: Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, said in a statement on Monday evening, "The White House opposes any effort to strip 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' from the National Defense Authorization Act."I am sure people are going to find ways to turn this very direct statement into how the White House really released that statement so the President can actually go behind the scenes and personally take Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal out of the defense authorization bill in the Senate, but I'm here to tell you what is actually coming out of the newsbubble known as Washington, DC.
The Human Rights Campaign, which is the largest LGBT lobby organization in DC (whether or not you like them isn't really the point, they have the biggest LGBT lobby would know more about these discussions than any other non-Congressional source), also dismissed yesterday's chatter as "background noise."
On Monday, Fred Sainz, HRC's communications vice president, called the reports "interesting background noise," but added, "At this point, this is nothing more than a rumor that has always been a possibility."As I pointed out yesterday, Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network also said that Chairman Levin is actually looking at several options.
Sainz, however, said, "As you would expect, Republicans like McCain are going to be shopping around any option that strips 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal from the underlying bill." [...] "We haven't seen any evidence of Democrats – and especially those in leadership – that have taken the bait."So let's recap. The Republicans, including John McCain, is holding the threat of not allowing a defense authorization bill to pass as a bait to try to get Levin to remove the DADT repeal provisions. But there is no evidence that the Democratic leadership in the Senate (who in this election did not lose their majority) is actually capitulating. Further, we have a definitive statement from the White House that the President is categorically and unequivocally opposed to removing the DADT repeal provision from the defense appropriations bill. This is what we know.
HRC also already has a list of Senators to target as an action item. Remember that the goal is to get them to vote to move the bill to a vote. They don't have to vote for the bill if they don't want to. All they need to do is to break a filibuster so that a majority of Senators can decide the bill's fate.
- In Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)
- In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D)
- In Illinois, Rep. Mark Kirk (R) [won special election to fill the seat vacated by President Obama].
- In Indiana, Sen. Richard Lugar (R)
- In Maine, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe
- In Ohio, Sen. George Voinovich (R)
- In Virginia, Sen. Jim Webb (D)
- In West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin (D)