The Senate will hold four cloture votes today. Now, when the Senate holds chained cloture votes like this, it’s typically a sign that they don’t have the votes to move any of them. The DREAM Act is in there, third out of four (the 9/11 health bill, which has more of a chance of passing, is after it), and the outlook is bleak, especially given the Republican kamikaze of the lame-duck agenda. Democrats in the House still don’t know if they’ll attach the AgJobs bill to the DREAM Act to try and get more votes, which means it’s not even a sure thing in the House. Olympia Snowe just came out as a no yesterday. So there’s little hope of this, or the others (9/11 health, collective bargaining for firefighters and a one-time $250 COLA replacement for Social Security recipients), passing.
If those fail, the Senate could proceed to the defense authorization bill, according to the calendar. That’s the bill that includes the legislative repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. They would reconsider the cloture vote which failed in September.
Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (AR), long on the fence about the future of the military’s ban on openly gay service members, has come down on the side of repeal.
“On many previous occasions, I have said that I would oppose repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until I had heard from our servicemen and women regarding this policy,” Pryor said in a brief statement this morning. “I have now carefully reviewed all of the findings, reports, and testimony from our armed forces on this matter and I accept the Pentagon’s recommendations to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
This significantly improves the chances for cloture, though two Republican votes would have to be secured. At least three, Susan Collins, Scott Brown and Dick Lugar, have pledged to move forward, but only with assurances on time for amendments. They both have also said they want to get to the tax issue first. What we could see is that they vote for cloture today, and then the bill gets shelved for a short while until the time agreements get worked out. But the showdown could come today, and Collins, Brown and Lugar can be made to be as good as their word.