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Calling all Floridians, Bay Staters, First Staters, Virginians, Hoosiers, Mainers, West Virginians, North Carolinians (Tarheels?), South Carolinians, Hawai'ians and Cornhuskers!

DADT repeal needs you!

There are 28 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC); sixteen Democrats and twelve Republicans. These 28 Senators hold the key to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and at least eleven are undecided, key votes.

DADT repeal strategy for some time has been to have a repeal amendment introduced into the Defense Authorization Bill. It will require a majority (15) of the SASC to get such an amendment into the bill.  To do so will not be easy, but this mechanism is the only realistic path for getting repeal through Congress for the forseeable future.

Based on statements by the Senators on the committee, statements by people who have talked to the Senators or their staffers, internet searches, Senators' party affiliation, their positions on related matters, and some guessing, I have sorted the 28 SASC members into six categories with respect to their likely stances on repeal.  Below is a summary, then the individual categorizations, the eleven swing votes I see on the committee, supporting evidence (if any), and an explanation as to why the SASC is the only game in town.

(This is a companion diary to todays's Clarknt67 diary, his ongoing series in conjunction with SLDN and other blogs: Stories from the Frontline: Letters to President Obama. This is also a reprise of an earlier diary of mine, with updated information about each of the 11 Senators.)

The Summary:

  • 5 Sponsors of the Senate repeal bill (SP)
  • 4 Strong supporters (++)
  • 3 Possible supporters (+)
  • 2 With unknown sympathies (??)
  • 6 With some kind of negative indicator (-)
  • 8 Assumed in total opposition (--)

The Complete Categorization, Senator by Senator:


SP Carl Levin (Michigan)
- Robert C. Byrd (West Virginia)
SP Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut)
++ Jack Reed (Rhode Island)
+ Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii)
+ Bill Nelson (Florida)
- Ben Nelson (Nebraska)
?? Evan Bayh (Indiana)
- Jim Webb (Virginia)
++ Claire McCaskill (Missouri)
SP Mark Udall (Colorado)
++ Kay R. Hagan (North Carolina)
++ Mark Begich (Alaska)
SP Roland W. Burris (Illinois)
SP Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico)
?? Edward E. Kaufman (Delaware)


-- John McCain (Arizona)
-- James M. Inhofe (Oklahoma)
-- Jeff Sessions (Alabama)
-- Saxby Chambliss (Georgia)
- Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
-- John Thune (South Dakota)
-- Roger F. Wicker (Mississippi)
- George S. LeMieux (Florida)
- Scott Brown (Massachusetts)
-- Richard Burr (North Carolina)
-- David Vitter (Louisiana)
+ Susan M. Collins (Maine)

The key votes

Assuming 15 votes are needed, with twelve sponsors, co-sponsors, strong supporters and indications of support, that leaves us seeking three votes.

The key players, the crucial swing votes to get a repeal amendment inserted, are (in some approximation to their likelihood of voting for repeal):

  • Bill Nelson (+)
  • Susan Collins (+)
  • Ed Kaufman (??)
  • Evan Bayh (??)
  • Robert Byrd (-)
  • ------------ (15 vote majority cutoff)
  • Jim Webb (-)
  • Scott Brown (-)
  • Ben Nelson (-)
  • Lindsay Graham (-)

Supporting Evidence For These Categorizations (not including co-sponsors):

Jack Reed (RI)

"Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), a senior member of the Armed
Services committee, praised Defense Secretary Robert Gates and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen for backing the
repeal of the policy and their handling of the repeal process.

"I thought the secretary and chairman were both appropriately
supportive of the policy change," Reed said on Bloomberg's "Political
Capital," which airs throughout the weekend. "But also recognizing
that there has to be not only a decision but also an implementation

The Hill (February 6, 2010)

Mark Begich (AK)

In the recording of March 11th's "View from the Hill" -
CBS 11's weekly interview series with Alaska's Washington delegation
-- Senator Begich said "I think it's done its time, it's time to move
on and change the policy." ...

"You look at the militaries of Canada, Great Britain, Australia, they
don't have any policy like this," Begich told host Matt Felling. He
continued "it has not caused any disruption of how we perform our
duties. And I think [don't ask, don't tell has] done its time, it's
time to move on."  

KTVA television

Daniel Akaka (HI)

*** no relevant statements or position found ***

Akaka was opposed to and voted against DADT in 1993, which is why he rates a single '+'.  His continued silence on this matter now is stunning.

Kay Hagan (NC)

"I'm supporting turning back that bill. The department of defense is committeed to repealing the outdated policy and Secretary Gates has announced that he will conduct a study to determine how best to implement the repeal."

Great News! Sen Kay Hagan supports DADT Repeal

Also a report of a conversation with her office by a Kossack

Susan Collins (ME)

"I've been participating in the hearings, and I have called for a review of the policy", Collins said. "It needs to be changed."


With all due respect, Senator, you are the agent of this change...

Claire McCaskill (MO)

Sam Drzymala, who works with the Senator, sent official word that "Senator McCaskill supports repealing the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy."

Great News!  Senator McCaskill now favors DADT repeal!

Ed Kaufman (DE)

*** no relevant statements or position found ***

Bill Nelson (FL)

FL Senator Bill Nelson's office is "Likely" to vote for repeal If a vote goes b4 the study is complete

Brian Fricke as documented in here

Evan Bayh (IN)

*** no relevant statements or position found ***

Robert Byrd (WV)

*** no relevant statements or position found ***

Wonkette anecdote about Byrd meeting with President Clinton about DADT

This is one of the only references I could find to Byrd and DADT.  It was a long time ago now, but it may shed some light on his mindset.

Byrd could well be absent because of his age and ill-health, which brings to fore the question of whether 15 votes are needed or just a majority of those present.

Jimm Webb (VA)

"Secretary of Defense [Robert] Gates and Adm. Mullen have
announced a responsible and careful approach toward examining the
current don't ask, don't tell policy. This examination, which also
will include an assessment of the implications of changing the law,
will take approximately a year," Webb's statement said.  


He obviously wants to wait.  The question is, would he actually vote
against repeal, especially if the repeal amendment includes a deferred implementation until after the DoD report is issued?

Scott Brown (MA)

"I want to speak to the generals on the ground," Brown told POLITICO on Tuesday. "We're in the middle of two wars right now, and to implement a social policy, a social change -- I think it's important to get the guidance from the generals who are leading our soldiers."  


I spoke to Brown's staff today who told me, "Sen Brown is working with Gates."

Comment by Clarknt67 in his DADT diary

Massachusetts is a liberal state.  Massachusetts has equal marriage rights.  Massachusetts has one of the highest perecentages of gays and lesbians.  You'd think if Brown had good political sense he'd see that there was no downside to a vote for repeal here, and potentially some upside.

Ben Nelson (NE)

Nelson told the conservative news site that he's waiting for a report from military leaders and the Defense Department before making up his mind.

"It's a question of what impact it would have on readiness, retention and recruitment," Nelson said. "And until we have that report to look at, it's premature to make any decision, in my opinion, about how, what to apply to the 'Don't ask, don't tell' rule we have in place today."  

The Hill

Why the Senate Armed Services Committee Is Critical

We know that 60 votes would be required in the Senate to get a standalone repeal bill to the floor, which is not going to happen.  If the amendment is inserted into the Defense Authorization Bill it would require 60 votes to strip it out.  The DAB is a 'must pass' bill, so it is unlikely to be filibustered and extremely unlikely to not pass a floor vote.  For more Senate analysis, see this diary by Clarknt67 and this one.

Conclusion: "If The Votes Are There!"

In the best of circumstances we need three (or even just two **) more votes, coming from Senators Bayh, Byrd, Webb, Kaufman, Brown, Ben Nelson or Graham.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said today that if the votes are there, he'll include a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in this year's Defense Authorization bill -- despite a warning from Defense Secretary Robert Gates not to...

That won't stop Levin, who said today that he'll put repeal in the authorization bill anyway, if he can get the votes for it. He said he's not sure if the votes are there...

Even so, he said repeal wouldn't go into effect until after the review is finished.

"What we ought to do is repeal it but make the effective date after the report," Levin said today,

Talking Points Memo

That's why we need you, Hoosiers, West Virginians, Virginians, First Staters, Bay Staters, Cornhuskers and South Carolinians, to call your Senator and ask them to vote for a repeal amendment in the Defense Authorization bill.

And that's why we need you, Floridians, Mainers, Hawai'ians and North Carolinians, to call your Senator to make sure they will vote against this policy and vote for repeal in the Defense Authorization Bill.

**I'm not sure and have been unable to find out whether to include an amendment it is necessary to have a majority of the entire committee (15 votes) or just a majority of those present and voting.  This may prove to be a crucial distinction: e.g., if, one member is uncomfortable voting either way (say, Brown), by being strategically absent that person could reduce the number of yea votes needed to 14 instead of 15.

*** Update ***  Just spoke with a staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee.  She said that a majority of those present and voting is required, not a majority of the entire committee.

Contact Info for the 11 Critical Senators

202-224-5042 email
302-573-6345 302-424-8090
1105 N. Market St., Suite 2000, Wilmington, DE 19801-1233

202-224-5274 email
1-888-671-4091 305-536-5999 813-225-7040 850-942-8415
US Court House Annex 111, North Adams Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301

202-224-6361 email
808-522-8970 808-935-1114
300 Ala Moana Blvd., Rm. 3-106, Box 50144, Honolulu, HI 96850

202-224-5623 email
317-554-0750 812-465-6500 260-426-3151 219-852-2763
1650 Market Tower, 10 West Market St., Indianapolis, IN 46204

202-224-2523 email
207-622-8414 207-945-0417 207-780-3575
One Canal Plazam, Suite 802, Portland, ME 04101

202-224-4543 email
2400 JFK Federal Building, 55 New Sudbury Street, Boston, MA 02203

202-224-6551 email
402-391-3411 402-441-4600 402-209-3595 308-293-5818
7602 Pacific St. Ste 205 Omaha, NE 68114

202-224-4024 email
804-771-2221 276-679-4925 757-518-1674 540-772-4236
507 East Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23219

202-224-3954 email
304-342-5855 304-264-4626
300 Virginia Street, East Suite 2630, Charleston, WV 25301

202-224-5972 email
803-933-0112 864-250-1417 803-366-2828
508 Hampton Street, Suite 202, Columbia, SC

202-224-6342 email
1-877-852-9462   336-333-5311   919-856-4630    704-334-2448
701 Green Valley Rd,  Suite 201,  Greensboro, NC 27408

Thank you.

Originally posted to jpmassar on Wed May 12, 2010 at 08:58 AM PDT.

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