Collins says 'Don't ask, don't tell' repeal must wait for tax cuts

Democrats hoping to move forward with legislation other than tax cuts shouldn't look to centrist Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to break the logjam.

Collins said again on Friday that, while she would vote with Democrats to end the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, she wouldn't do so until a debate over tax cuts has been resolved.

"Once the tax issue is resolved, I have made it clear that if the Majority Leader brings the Defense Authorization bill to the floor with sufficient time allowed for debate and amendments, I would vote to proceed to the bill," she said in a statement.

The statement is a sign that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (Ky.) Republican conference hasn't fractured in its insistence that the expiring tax cuts be dealt with prior to action on any other legislative business.

All 42 Senate Republicans wrote Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to inform him that the GOP wouldn't allow any other issues to move before tax cuts during the lame-duck session. That includes the defense authorization bill, to which an amendment is attached that would do away with the military's prohibition on openly gay and lesbian members.

That bill appears to have the 60 votes necessary to proceed through the Senate — but not until tax cuts are addressed.

Reid will convene a rare Saturday session tomorrow to vote on tax cuts, but on a version that Republicans are expected to oppose. Democrats will bring two bills to the floor: one that would extend all tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 and another measure meant as a compromise, which would extend tax cuts for all making less than $1 million.

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