One of our readers claims it’s “ridiculous” for me to blame Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the failure of DADT repeal. This critic lays the blame primarily at the feet of the Republicans. To be sure, he does acknowledge that Reid “may have been one of the reasons it didn’t pass”, but that explanation, in my mind, glosses over just how much power the Nevada Democrat has. Reid controlled the Senate agenda in the 111th Congress. Indeed, for roughly six months of his tenure, he had a filibuster-proof majority, not needing a single Republican vote to move legislation.
And there several Senate Republicans, notably Susan Collins of Maine, who favor repeal. Only Reid’s ham-handed manner of pursuing repeal turned off even moderates like her. She wasn’t the only one to fault Reid’s strategy on appeal. As I wrote last month in a piece for Pajamas Media:
. . . in the Washington Post, . . . Collins . . . faulted the Nevada Democrat for using “procedural tactics” to “prevent Republican amendments.” She wasn’t alone. Her Massachusetts colleague Scott Brown also decried Reid’s tactics. Jarrod Chlapowski, field director for Servicemembers United, a group opposed to DADT, derided Reid’s legislative tactics as “cynical” and called them “a recipe for failure.”
Despite Reid’s tactical blunders, Collins is still hoping to move forward on repeal. I wonder why the Democratic Leader didn’t try earlier to reach across the partisan divide and solicit the help of the Maine Republican. According to Politico, she and her Connecticut colleague Joe Lieberman
. . .sent a letter (viewable here) to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, urging him to make the highly-anticipated report public “as soon as possible” to improve the chances that a conditional repeal of the ban on gays in the military – currently attached to a must-pass defense authorization bill – will become law before the clock runs out on the lame-duck session next month.
She seems pretty confident that report will confirm what other studies have shown — that repeal of the ban will not compromise unit cohesion or military effectiveness. Let’s hope for a speedy release of the report — and a speedy vote on repeal.
If Harry Reid is serious about ending the ban, he’ll reach out to his Republican colleague from Maine and seek her advice in crafting a legislative strategy on repeal.
NB: Tweaked the post to more accurately reflect the comment of the critic in question.
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