Lieberman wants Senate to stay in session until it repeals 'Don't ask' policy

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) wants the Senate to stay in session until it's passed legislation to do away with the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Lieberman, a key Senate proponent of repealing the military's ban on openly gay or lesbian members, doesn't want the chamber to adjourn until it's acted on a defense authorization bill that contains a provision to do away with the policy.

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“Sen. Lieberman believes that there are at least 60 votes to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year, provided that leadership allows time for sufficient debate and amendments," Lieberman spokeswoman Erika Masonhall said. "Wanting to go home is not an acceptable excuse for failing to pass a bill that provides essential support for our troops and veterans and failing to take action that the president, the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have called for.”

The senator also appeared to endorse Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart's demand that the Senate stay in session in a tweet on Monday.

Democrats appear to have the 60 votes necessary to overcome any GOP-led filibuster of the defense bill, because some Republicans — like Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.) — have said they support the repeal.

But all 42 GOP senators have vowed to block any legislation from moving forward until the Senate passes an extension of expiring Bush-era tax cuts for all income brackets. Even the Republicans who favor repealing "Don't ask, don't tell" have made clear they won't allow the defense bill to move forward until tax cuts are addressed.

That puts Democrats up against a tight legislative calendar. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Saturday that he hopes to finish work by Dec. 17 and avoid working up until the Christmas holiday, as the Senate had done last year.

But Democrats face a busy schedule in which they hope to handle other controversial pieces of legislation, such as the DREAM Act. Republicans have meanwhile demanded weeks to debate the defense bill, a timeline that would seem to kick the legislation — and with it, the repeal of "Don't ask, don't tell" — until next year.

At that point, new senators will have been sworn in, giving the GOP control of 47 seats and making passing a defense bill including a repeal of the policy difficult, if not impossible.


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