Call me skeptical about this:

FOX has obtained a letter being circulated to Senate Republicans that calls for a filibuster blockade of any legislation not directly related to time-sensitive votes on taxes and spending.

All 42 Republican senators have signed on to the plan, which would effectively end Democratic hopes to push through controversial measures like allowing gays in the military to express their sexualities and offering amnesty to illegal immigrants who attend college or volunteer for the military.

But, Senate Republican aides say they are confident that the message is getting through in their caucus.

I wouldn’t be fully surprised by this at all. But, um, didn’t we just see 73 votes for the food safety bill just yesterday? When was this letter signed?

We’ll know soon enough. Democrats apparently screwed up the food safety bill by not gutting a House bill and originating spending in the Senate. The DREAM Act is on the Senate calendar and will get its first vote on the motion to proceed tomorrow. The hearings on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will happen tomorrow and Friday, and there’s a pretty well-known list of votes on that point. Then you have new START, which Dick Lugar insists will happen the week of December 13. In fact, Republicans just yesterday announced that progress was being made on the treaty.

Now, would I be shocked if all of that went over the board in a kamikaze play? Of course not. Republicans will have a stronger hand on these bills in the next Congress. If they don’t want them to pass at all, they can easily kill them by having the Republican House never bring them up. If they want more input, having 5 more colleagues in the Senate and 63 in the House ensures that.

At the same time, I think that there is a glimmer of recognition of the importance of these matters. The nightmare scenarios on the DREAM Act are being debunked, and a handful of Republicans have said in public – particularly Richard Lugar and Bob Bennett (the latter won’t be back and really shouldn’t care about party discipline) – that they’d support it. It doesn’t mean it’ll pass – Mark Pryor is a sure no, and Baucus, Tester, Ben Nelson, Conrad, and Manchin are questionable votes, meaning you’d need more Republicans – but it means that there are at least some votes up for grabs. On DADT, it’s inside a defense authorization bill which actually does concern time-limited spending. And like DREAM, there are specific Senators who have signaled their support. Plus, with Bob Gates urging a vote without delay and the service members largely unconcerned, there’s plenty of cover from the military.

I’m just not totally buying this blackout. It’s possible, if not probable. But I think they’ll have to prove it, as soon as tomorrow. And this is a pretty good reason for filibuster reform, but that goes without saying.

UPDATE: Ah, this is much different. I totally believe that McConnell can wrangle the Republicans against any other vote until they get the tax and appropriations issues done FIRST. This is just about sequencing. I see.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Republicans said they would not agree to proceed on any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and prevent “the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers.” [...]

“One thing I think we all agreed on at the White House is that we ought to do first things first,” McConnell said in an interview with ABC News. “And what the American people want to know is, are our taxes going up, and how are you going to fund the government. Let’s do those things first, and see what kind of time is left.”