UPDATE @ 5:50 PM: Just got the news that Senator Wyden has prostate cancer and is going to have surgery early next week:
Wyden’s diagnosis and impending absence threatens to significantly complicate Democrats’ ambitious lame-duck agenda, as they’ll be without a typically reliable vote in the Oregon Democrat.
“I scheduled the surgery for the Monday before Christmas anticipating that the Senate would have recessed by that time and that there would be no disruption to my work in Oregon or Washington,” Wyden said in a statement. “However, it now appears that I will be missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week while I prepare and undergo this procedure. I expect to be back to work full-time when the Senate reconvenes in January.”
Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Senator Wyden.
First, here’s the report on Reid’s intentions regarding DADT based on interviews with several Democratic Senators:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told his caucus at a closed-door meeting Thursday that he would try to hold another vote on the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy before the next Congress convenes.
After the meeting, Reid told reporters he wasn’t sure he could hold a vote before Christmas.
“It seems to be pretty high on the leadership’s list of things to get done, so we’ll probably end up getting a vote on that,” said Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) after the meeting.
“He says there will be,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said of a vote on repealing the ban prohibiting gays from serving in the military openly.
So, we’re probably going to get a vote, it seems. But, it might not be until after Christmas — and that doesn’t instill confidence.
After the caucus meeting, Reid spoke to reporters in the Capitol. He was asked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Igor Volsky got the video. Listen and watch for yourself. It’s hard to hear the reporter’s question, so I’ve posted the transcript after the video:
This is the transcript:
QUESTION: Senator Reid, will you have a vote on “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”?
Will you bring that to the floor before Christmas?
REID: I don’t know if I’ll bring it before Christmas. Before this Congress ends, we’re going to to — we’re going to complete — or have a vote, determine a vote on the START treaty, the DREAM Act, “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”, 9/11 and, hopefully, we can get an agreement on nominations. Otherwise we’ll have some votes on nominations.
I’m hoping this is a threat to get the Senate moving. Waiting til after Christmas doesn’t seem like a great idea.
Greg Sargent addresses the same point:
One Senate aide involved with the talks points out, however, that not holding the vote on DADT before Christmas is taking a big risk.
“The problem is that we could lose votes with members not returning after Christmas,” the aide tells me. “This would be extremely risky, particularly now, when we have the votes.”
The worry is that all it would take to derail repeal is for two or three Senators who support DADT to fail to return to the Capitol. With the current count of Senators supporting DADT repeal hovering at around 61, there obviously isn’t much room for error. Simply put, repealing DADT is not a huge priority for some Senators, even if they support it. So postponing the vote is a risk — particularly when the votes are there to get this done right now.