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October 13, 2015

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Harry Reid seeks repeal of ‘Don’t Ask,’ spokesman says GOP help needed

Sun Coverage

Harry Reid’s been coming under fire for hedging his plans on a potential second swipe at repealing the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy -- a possibility that’s now looking less and less likely.

In an afternoon tweet, Reid chief spokesman Jim Manley said the measure wouldn’t move unless Republicans would agree not to filibuster the measure right off the bat.

“@SenatorReid strongly supports repeal of #DADT but he can’t do it alone. @Senate_GOPs need to agree to at least debate the issue,” he wrote.

But lately, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t appeared to be in a compromising mood.

Last week, McConnell made clear the GOP’s primary objective in the next two years was to make sure President Obama is defeated in 2012 -- and said that if Democrats wanted compromise, it would have to be on Republicans’ terms.

That doesn’t bode well for controversial votes coming down the pike in the lame-duck session. Reid will still be working with a supermajority, but needs at least one or two Republicans to split off from their caucus to clear the filibuster-proof, 60-vote hurdle.

In September, Reid attempted to bring up both a repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," which prevents gays from serving openly in the military, and the DREAM Act, which would put some qualifying undocumented immigrant college students and military enrollees on a pathway to citizenship, under the umbrella of the defense authorization bill.

Republicans, led by McConnell and John McCain of Arizona, waged a successful filibuster against even bringing what is normally considered a must-pass up for debate. That measure to fund the military will be one of the first orders of business when lawmakers return to Washington next week; but it’s not clear if the two issues will be the same fight.

Many accused Reid of playing politics with the bill in September, and only including the ancillary measure as a way to make a play to his Democratic voter base in the midst of a difficult election season. The measures did not pass, and Reid beat Republican opponent Sharron Angle by 5 percentage points.

Reid has promised that the DREAM Act will be considered in the lame-duck session, but he has not made the same promise concerning "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."

In the meantime, the debate on DADT has shifted somewhat. Republicans had demanded in September that Congress wait until the military finished conducting a survey of active service members before pushing forward with any repeal attempt; that survey’s results are expected Dec. 1, and early leaks suggest that servicemembers’ overwhelming attitude toward gays serving in the middle is one of nonchalance.

The measure is also kicking around the federal courts system, after a California judge ordered an injunction on the practice. But the 9th Circuit Appeals Court has since issued a long-term stay of that decision while the government prepares an appeal -- meaning the DADT practice is still the status quo.

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