Lieberman claims 60 votes for repeal of ‘Don’t ask’ policy

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the lead sponsor of a standalone bill to repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, says he has the 60 votes he needs to win.
 
Lieberman (I-Conn.) cited recent statements of support by GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Scott Brown (Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine).
 

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Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted earlier this month to advance legislation that would repeal the policy, which bans gays from serving openly in the military. 
 
“We’re over 60 votes,” Lieberman said Thursday afternoon. “It would be just wrong to let the opponents of the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ run out the clock so it can’t happen.”
 
The bill needs 60 votes to quash Republican-led efforts to block it by filibuster.
 
Murkowski told reporters before a GOP lunch meeting on Thursday that she would vote for repeal.
 
Lieberman has asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring the standalone measure to the floor immediately after consideration of an omnibus appropriations bill or a stopgap spending measure to keep the government funded through 2011.
 
“He’s thinking about it,” Lieberman said of Reid. “He definitely said we will take up ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ before the end of the session. He said there will be a vote on it.”
 

Reid also plans to hold end-of-year votes on a House-passed version of the DREAM Act, which grants legal residency to illegal immigrants who came to the United States at a young age, and a 9/11 healthcare bill.
 
Lieberman said his legislation should have priority over those measures.
 
“I think we’re the one that clearly has the votes to end a filibuster and it came to us on a special message so we can go right to it,” said Lieberman.
 
The Senate can take up Lieberman’s bill immediately because it has privileged status as a message from the House.
 
The repeal was included in a defense authorization that Republicans successfully filibustered earlier this month. Democrats fell three votes short of the 60 needed to advance that bill.
 
Collins was the only Republican to vote to end the filibuster of the defense bill.