Scott Brown announced his support for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell today, consistent with the position of the broader military.
“I pledged to keep an open mind about the present policy on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Having reviewed the Pentagon report, having spoken to active and retired military service members, and having discussed the matter privately with Defense Secretary Gates and others, I accept the findings of the report and support repeal based on the Secretary’s recommendations that repeal will be implemented only when the battle effectiveness of the forces is assured and proper preparations have been completed.”
Bob Gates successfully convinced Brown on the implementation process, which should concern people a bit, especially as Gates might not be around to do the implementation. Gates did say that he would not “slow-walk” things, but what about his successor? What if a President Palin reaches office without implementation in place, and she just never certifies it? I don’t know if that’s likely, but it’s something to watch.
On the matter at hand, it seems like there are now two sure Republican votes for repeal: Brown and Susan Collins. Joe Lieberman said Richard Lugar was a Yes vote for repeal a couple weeks ago. So that means that, if Democrats all vote for repeal, even with the loss of fundie Mark Pryor you’d have 60 votes. In addition, Lisa Murkowski and John Ensign have indicated potential support, with Olympia Snowe, George Voinovich and George LeMieux as possibles.
However, getting all the Democrats but Pryor on board is unclear. Jim Webb seemed to drift closer to support in the hearings. Ben Nelson switched his vote to support months ago, and he was stalwart in the hearings, but he has also said that the Senate shouldn’t move forward on anything but taxes and spending and jobs. One of the newest Senators, and the newest member of the Armed Services Committee, Joe Manchin, seemed very focused on chaplains leaving the military as a result of any policy shift. Previously, Manchin said he wanted the report before he would agree to support repeal, but now it’s here and it makes a pretty definitive case. Blanche Lincoln voted against cloture last time on the defense authorization bill, but she’s a lame duck now. She’s publicly uncommitted.
I think the votes are possibly there, but it’s a matter of whether the Republicans will demand some kind of long time frame in exchange for their vote, which could put the whole thing out of reach.