Does the Sky Fall If the Senate Doesn’t Include a DADT Repeal in the Defense Budget Bill?

Not necessarily, says wise guy Aubrey Sarvis of SLDN. But only if the House get its act together. While the Senate Armed Services Committee won’t vote unless Chairman Carl Levin knows he’s on a team with 15 supporters, “[i]f the House were to approve repeal,” reports GCN, “Levin would be an influential player in the Conference Committee tasked with resolving House-Senate differences in the authorization measures. Hopes of prevailing there, Sarvis argued, are ‘not just pie-in-the-sky with the committee chair on board.'” Might that actually make for a wiser strategy?

“SLDN is also aiming to achieve action on the House side by late May, but there the route is different. In the Senate, McCain could lead a filibuster of any floor amendment with just 41 votes; if Levin inserts repeal through committee action, repeal opponents would need 51 votes. Amendments in the House, where there is no filibuster procedure, can be approved with a simple majority — which is a good thing since the climate on the Armed Services Committee there is considerably less hospitable than in the Senate.” Indeed. Sen. Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat, chairs the House’s committee, and he enjoys himself some DADT.

Meanwhile, there’s the Rep. Patrick Murphy factor.

Sarvis took particular note of the leadership provided by Pennsylvania’s Patrick Murphy, the two-term Democrat who is shepherding the repeal effort in the House. An Iraq War veteran, Murphy narrowly defeated GOP Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick in 2006 and will face his former opponent again this fall in a race where the Republicans have already made the Democrat’s support for repeal an issue.

“He doesn’t back away,” Sarvis said of Murphy’s commitment on repeal. “It’s just a matter of time,” the SLDN leader said, before Murphy goes to Hoyer and Pelosi to argue that having gambled his career on winning repeal, he expects to get a floor vote. “Hoyer’s pushback will be, ‘Do you have the votes?,’” Sarvis said, adding that if Murphy can confidently show he’s within five votes of victory, “The speaker ought to be able to whip at least ten votes,” something Pelosi did twice in the healthcare push.

(If you’re truly interested in the backroom dealings, we strongly encourage you to read the rest of Paul Schindler’s report. It’s one of the most in-depth pieces on strategy we’ve seen of late, and it’ll educate you more about how activists are working on lawmakers than any press release HRC ever sends.)