December 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
No 60 votes for ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal: source

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) with Admiral Mike Mullen (Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Democratic Senate aide claims there aren’t enough votes to move forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and is blaming Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for being intransigent.

Asked whether the Senate has the necessary 60 votes to end a filibuster and move forward with the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill, the aide said, “As of right now, it looks like we will not.”

The aide said Collins — who has been the Republican point person in negotiations in moving forward with the defense authorization bill — has been “inflexible” and “unreasonable in her demands.”

“So far, she has not been willing to negotiate,” the aide said.

The aide said Collins — who previously said she had been seeking a more open amendment process on the legislation to move forward — has been seeking unlimited debate to move forward with the defense authorization bill.

In a statement, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) disputed the account that Collins has been inflexible in her negotiations over the defense authorization bill.

“Senator Collins has been working in good faith to achieve an agreement on the process to move forward with the defense bill that contains the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Lieberman said. “I categorically reject reports by uninformed staffers who have suggested otherwise.”

Lieberman said he wants “those responsible for such baseless allegations” to stop immediately and work to get to an agreement to the defense authorization bill to the Senate floor.

“We are making progress toward an agreement to move forward on the defense bill that includes the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and I remain confident that we can reach an agreement, which is necessary before any vote on the motion to reconsider is taken,” Lieberman said.

Despite the prediction that there are not enough votes to move forward with the defense authorization bill, the aide said Reid intends to move forward nonetheless because “the clock is obviously running out” on the time the Senate can take on the defense authorization bill.

The aide said Reid intends to offer 10 Republican amendments and five Democratic amendments when he brings the bill to the Senate floor today and that Senate leadership is hoping Collins or other Republican senators — such as Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — will find that these procedural conditions are acceptable.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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