ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports:
Not only do supporters of the repeal have reason to celebrate today because of the House of Representatives’ vote in favor of a stand-alone bill to repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, but also because the chances of the bill passing the Senate improved when Republican Olympia Snowe of Maine said she will support it.
“After careful analysis of the comprehensive report compiled by the Department of Defense and thorough consideration of the testimony provided by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs, I support repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law,” Snowe said in a statement. “However, as was stated in the letter I signed along with all of my Republican colleagues to the Majority Leader on Dec. 1, we must first fund the government beyond Dec. 18, and prevent the largest tax increase in our nation’s history from affecting all Americans on New Year’s Day before addressing other legislation.”
Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-CT, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, who are leading the push in the Senate for the stand-alone bill repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, believe they have the 60 votes needed to overcome the Senate threshold.
At last week’s Senate vote when the repeal was attached to the annual defense authorization bill, the measure fell only three votes short.
56 Democrats voted for repeal at that time. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., missed the vote due to a dentist’s appointment, while Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, opposed repeal, arguing that the policy “probably should be repealed in the near future,” but not now because of “the effect implementation would have on our front line combat troops at this time.”
With Lincoln’s vote, that would mean 57 Democrats are in favor of repeal. Then come the Republicans. Collins brings the tally to 58 and Snowe brings it to 59.
Two other Republicans – Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Lisa Murkowski – have also voiced support for repeal, but both of them voted against repeal last week on procedural grounds. If the repeal is to pass – and to do so it must overcome a packed Senate lame-duck calendar – Democrats need to secure the support of Brown or Murkowski.