The Reid Ultimatum

The Senate's attempt to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy on gay service members went down "in a blaze of unusual bipartisan fury," falling three votes short in procedural poll on whether to move forward on debating the proposal. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) apparently got sick of bargaining over the repeal with moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, callling for the vote even though he knew it was doomed. The failed procedural vote means DADT is unlikely to be changed any time soon—the lame-duck session of Congress is running out of time (and still has quite a bit on its plate: tax cuts, New START, etc.) and things will probably only get more difficult in the next legislative session when Republicans gain more seats, including a majority in the House of Representatives. But it also casts doubt on whether Congress will pass the "broader 2011 defense measure" that the DADT repeal was bundled with. The bill includes a pay raise for troops and funding for Afghan-soldier training and weapons systems.

Naturally, everyone wants to start pointing fingers. Greg Sargent details what Harry Reid was thinking. Stacy McCain says don't blame the Republicans, the vote failed because of Reid, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Blance Lincoln (D-AR); Manchin crossed party lines to vote no and Lincoln apparently didn't show up at all. And Daniel Halper notes that Reid didn't meet the Republican demand that any vote on DADT wait until after the deal over extending the Bush tax cuts had passed. Bradford Plumer blogs, "At this point, it's hard to overstate just how dysfunctional and inane the U.S. Senate is," and Scott Lemieux labels Congress the "world's worst deliberative body." Crooks and Liars finds the political wrangling "disgusting," Adam Serwer calls the failure, "the most pathetic, embarrassing political moment I've ever covered" and Suzy Khimm writes that it was "a depressing reminder of just how intractable the GOP has become." Andrew Sullivan thinks Reid's decision was "reckless," but says the real culprit is "John McCain's filibuster."