House votes today on standalone DADT bill. There are still ‘minefields’ in the Senate

The House will vote on the standalone DADT bill today. It should pass, but House members still need to hear from us. The switchboard number is 202-224-3121. (UPDATE @ 10:38 AM: The House will probably vote on the Rule for the DADT bill around noon — and move to debate and vote on final passage in the 3 – 4 PM range.)

After passage, the bill will be sent as a “message” to the Senate, thereby avoiding an initial filibuster. The Senate can immediately begin debate on the legislation, although when that debate actually starts is unclear. We will need 60 votes to end the debate.

So, while the action is in the House today, all eyes are on the Senate. There was a lot swirling around yesterday. The Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson was on the Hill getting the latest:

Winnie Stachelberg, vice president for external affairs at the Center for American Progress, also said she believes there’s a chance the bill will pass before Congress is out of session.

“Having a chance is all that you need,” she said. “And you need the pieces to fall into place and the commitment of those on the Hill and the White House to get it done. People really need to lean into this to get it done.”

Good lord. Having a chance is all we need? Really, Winnie. Actually, we need 60 votes. Anytime I read a quote from Winnie Stachelberg, I worry. She’s been one of the masterminds behind the DADT repeal strategy all year. Now, she wants the White House “to lean into this.” Winnie is very close to the White House — and she went along with the original plan to push back a vote until after the Pentagon survey was completed. We needed the White House to lean in back in 2009 and early 2010. I still don’t understand why Winnie is so influential in this process, but we’ll discuss that — and the failings of other parties — in the weeks to come. Today, we’ve got to focus on the task at hand. Because while things look better, this is not a done deal at all.

On the GOP side, not everyone is so optimistic:

But a Senate Republican aide, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, was more cautious and said passage depends “on so many variables.”

“I think if the omnibus, the continuing resolution, all that stuff stretches past Thursday night, Friday, then it gets real difficult,” the aide said. “Those things are already set in motion. It could happen, but there’s just a lot of minefields.”

Yes, there are a lot of minefields. And, the mines are being laid by John McCain and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.

Sam Stein encapsulated the Senate battle ahead:

In the Senate, there are currently myriad scenarios under which a standalone repeal could either pass or fail. But several sources — both Republican and Democrat, on the Hill and off — conveyed the sense that the bill’s fate rests on two main questions: Whether McCain, who has spearheaded the opposition to repeal, will be able to delay or torpedo the measure through amendments, and whether Obama will dive into the trenches to help Senate Democratic leadership corral the votes for passage.

We know that McCain is willing to use all the tricks at his disposal. We still don’t know that Obama will dive into the trenches. He hasn’t yet.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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