Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Democrats in the Senate have the votes not only to pass the measure to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” but also to thwart any attempt by Republicans to defeat the measure through some other tactic. But neither he nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has boasted 60 votes to stop a filibuster.
“I think we’ll get 55 votes to flat repeal it,” said Biden, in an interview with MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow, broadcast Wednesday night.
The repeal language is already in the Senate version of the annual bill to authorize spending by the Department of Defense. But Republicans are expected to try force a vote to strip the language before passing the overall spending bill.
Biden, who said he was “personally involved” in getting the DADT measure out of the Senate Armed Services Committee and is actively working on it now, said Republicans “will introduce, at some point, an amendment to strike” the DADT repeal language from the defense authorization bill.
“We’ve got the votes to defeat that,” said Biden. “Then, the Republicans -- if they’re as foolish as I think they may be-- then they may try to hold up the defense authorization bill. And they’re going to probably filibuster that.”
“We have enough votes to sustain support for repealing” DADT, said Biden.
Noting that actual repeal of the policy --even if approved by Congress this fall— can’t go into effect until sometime next spring at the earliest, Maddow asked why the administration can’t suspend discharges now under the law.
“Because that is the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it,” said Biden. ”We had to build a consensus for this –working very hard on the telephone, calling people…and everybody’s looking for the orderly elimination of this law…. That’s why it hasn’t happened. It’s resulted in us getting over 55 votes –I think we’ll get 55 votes—to flat repeal it.”
Reid announced Monday that the Senate would take up the defense authorization bill next week. Although the defense spending bill sometimes takes two weeks to complete, Reid later indicated the Senate take its votes concerning DADT next week.
Even without the DADT language, there is considerable volatility around the defense spending bill. Reid has also announced he wants to include language in the bill to enable foreign children who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 without legal status to obtain legal status. And, while President Obama supports repealing DADT, he has threatened to veto the defense spending legislation if it includes funding to build an alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet. The House approved such funding in its bill.
Once the Senate passes its bill, a House-Senate conference committee will have to hammer out what stays in a final version of the defense spending bill and send it back to both chambers for approval, then to the president. A similar showdown took place last year, jeopardizing the hate crimes language, but the final defense spending bill did not include the funding.
© 2010 Keen News Service