Oh, joy, look who will get to “burnish his progressive credentials” by introducing the repeal of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell in the United States Senate.
“On ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ this administration is talking directly to the Hill — we are in direct discussions with Senator Lieberman,” John Berry, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, told The Advocate.
A spokesman for Senator Lieberman confirmed that the senator had been speaking to the White House about the bill. “Senator Lieberman has had discussions with representatives of the Administration and others on the best way to reverse this policy, which he has opposed since it was first proposed in 1993,” said Marshall Wittmann, Lieberman’s press secretary. Wittmann gave no further information on the senator’s plans regarding the legislation.
Will this be the issue that redeems Lieberman with the Democratic base? And why is the Obama White House pursuing such a strategy?
Lieberman is generally seen as a strong candidate for carrying the bill given his position on the Armed Services Committee and his strong engagement with the military. Insiders also say the senator could use the legislation to burnish his progressive credentials, which might be a consideration for him based on his support for Sen. John McCain during the 2008 election and the fact that he lost his 2006 Democratic primary to Ned Lamont.
Lieberman also has strong ties to Republican senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, one of whom might consider being his Republican counterpart on a repeal bill. Collins cosponsored Lieberman’s introduction this year of the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act, which would extend spousal benefits to the same-sex partners of federal government employees.
I find this discussion particularly timely as progressive Democrats pressure Harry Reid to ensure all members of the Senate Democratic caucus vote to allow a health care up-or-down vote on the floor — or face consequences.