As the clock continues to run on the Lame Duck Congress, we've been told repeatedly that there just may not be enough time to allow a vote on repealing "don't ask, don't tell," with a recent report saying:
... that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is working behind the scenes to get Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed this year, but didn't commit to keeping Senators in town longer than planned to get it done.
That "longer than planned," by the way, is the arbitrary December 17th target date set by Reid, apparently feeling that it's more important for Senators to get a jump on their holiday shopping than to do their job.
And today it looks like Reid has an official excuse lined up for punting on ending the military's odious, discriminatory policy:
In a nutshell, Collins is asking Democratic leaders for unlimited debate on the defense bill. Reid, in turn, is offering Collins a compromise: votes on 10 separate amendments, seven of which would come from Republicans, three of which would come from Democrats.
Collins has responded that this isn't good enough, and she'll refuse to let the Senate vote up or down on the legislation.
Is Collins being unreasonable? Of course. So what else is new? Collins and her fellow Republicans have been calling for two weeks of debate despite the fact that in the past:
The Senate has spent five days (or fewer) debating the defense authorization bill nine times. And, once ... it took one day. On average, the process includes votes on about 12 amendments -- though sometimes they vote on as many as 20 or 30 or as few as one or two.
... but as I argued the other day:
... if Senate Republicans insist they need the time, give it to them. Take away their stated reason for not having a vote and let them have the national stage for two weeks to make their case -- because God knows they'll never be able to keep a lid on the bigotry fueling their opposition for that long.
Harry Reid may want wrap things up and get home for the holidays, but the fact is this lame-duck session can run right up until the 112th Congress is sworn in on January 5.
We've heard a lot of whining from Senate Democrats in recent days about wanting to fight -- well here's their chance. They need to put down the eggnog, put off their extended holiday break and fight to end the military's official policy of discriminating against millions of Americans.
The Republicans will do anything they can to keep this policy. It's up to Senate Democrats to fight to end it. In the end they may lose the fight, but they have to at least try.