Today is the day! The Senate will vote on the amendment to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell at 2:30 EST today (technically the vote is for amendments to a funding bill — the point is, Congress is really confusing).
Watch the livestream here:
Lady Gaga has been upping the intensity of the debate all week, what with her PSA and her #speechofmeat. Hopefully you Americans have been calling your senators and advocating for repeal like good little monsters. In fact, there is still time do that, if you want!
We will update this post all afternoon as new developments come in, so keep checking back! And as usual with our open threads/live blogs, read from the bottom up to get the everything in order.
3:01 p.m.: The vote to move forward to debate the amendments included on the defense bill has been denied. This means that, because there was an amendment that would let the president repeal DADT attached to this bill, 43 men and women in the U.S. Senate have voted to not even discuss it. Happy Tuesday, America! Way to go.
2:36 p.m.: Rachel Maddow will be on MSNBC at 3:00 p.m. to discuss the outcome of this vote. She will explain things to you and make you feel better / smarter / happier in your pants.
2:27 p.m.: Joe Lieberman is opposed to this filibuster and wants to eventually repeal DADT; is not stupid. John McCain repeats irrelevant words.
2:12 p.m.: Carl Levin (D-Michigan) wants to just 'get to the bill.' He makes the point that non-relevant amendments have been added to Defense Authorization Bills throughout history, and that actually the DADT amendment is somewhat (very) relevant to the bill in that it deals with the construction of the military. YES GOOD POINT, SIR.
1:36 p.m.: As an intrepid commenter has pointed out, we need to make a bigger distinction on the cloture issue here. The vote today will not repeal DADT, it will just get us a step closer to the process. This vote will allow amendments to the final funding bill. One of those amendments will repeal DADT, conditional on the military report of the issue due Dec. 1 and on effects to military readiness. Check out this article, which explains things more fully.
Thanks for the reminder on that distinction, JJ!
12:52 p.m.: The Washington Post has a good roundup of different news articles on the issue.
12:30 p.m.: With less than two hours to the vote, there isn't much time left for debate or for switching sides. So how do things look for repeal right now? Not so great, maybe.
Alex Nicholson of the Servicemembers United told the Washington Blade that, as things stand right now, he doesn't expect the vote to succeed.
“I haven’t seen anybody budge,” Nicholson said. “The Republican caucus is standing united and it’s still just a standoff.”
Still, this vote is just one step in the process, which Sen. Harry Reid has been quick to point out. The effort for repeal is not actually expected to wrap up until after the November elections.
Observers expect a close cloture vote, but the policy bill is almost certain to pass later this year if Democrats can break a Republican-led filibuster. Gay rights advocates also expect a repeal to remain part of the final House-Senate compromise bill, especially if a final vote is held after the Pentagon completes a study of how lifting the gay ban might affect troop readiness and morale. The study is due to President Obama by Dec. 1.
Republicans are generally upset that this vote is happening before the study is coming out. Sen. John McCain has threatened to filibuster the bill, and Democrats are unsure whether they have the 60 votes needed to override him. His reasoning for blocking the bill is the usual stuff about cohesion and timing:
McCain, a war hero and outspoken advocate for the armed forces, insists changing the policy now would hurt military readiness and unit cohesion in the middle of two ongoing wars. He and other Republicans want Congress to wait to consider a repeal until the Pentagon completes a review of the impact of changing the policy.
That's all fine and good, except the current language of the repeal mean that "any change to the current policy would depend upon completion of the military study, expected by December, and certification from the Pentagon that military readiness would not be harmed." And his argument falls apart.
At this point, McCain must know that he's wrong, but by gosh, he's gonna just filibuster it anyway. We think he has just gone off the rails and has stopped caring about doing the right thing.