In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), all 42 Republican senators have written, "[W]e write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers."
That, of course, would include the motion to proceed on the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal language in the version passed earlier this year by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The united GOP senators went on:
With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities. While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network reacted strongly and quickly to the news, with executive director Aubrey Sarvis saying in a statement that "Senate Majority Leader Reid must call the defense bill back up next week.
"The Republican caucus that has expressed strong support for a vote on extending the Bush era tax cuts should be as equally unified in support of a vote in the lame-duck session on the nation’s defense bill, the very bill which provides for our security and the well being of service members who defend us every day," he said in the statement. "It's past time for those Republican senators who say they support a vote on the defense bill and repeal to show it with a vote, and not by words alone."
After twenty-three months of excuses and delays in this Congress, it’s time to vote. If Republicans or Democrats use ‘procedure’ and the tax bill as excuses for not voting that is the very same as voting no. A no vote when Reid calls the repeal vote will not only put senators on the wrong side of history, it will also put them in opposition to the overwhelming majority of those who serve in our armed forces and the most senior members of our military.
Providing a big-picture view of what this move from the GOP means for the lame-duck session of Congess, Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler bluntly sums up the situation as thus:
Dems are clearly in a vice. They can't move anything until those priorities are sorted out. And they won't be sorted out quickly unless Dems basically cave. And if they don't cave, then maybe they win a few concessions from the GOP on tax cuts, and appropriations, but the clock runs out on everything else: judges, DADT, DREAM, and, apparently, START.
[UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan is just as blunt, but in describing his view of the Republican Party since Obama's election:
This is not conservatism, properly understood, a disposition that respects the institutions and traditions of government, that can give as well as take, that seeks the national interest before partisan concerns, and that respects both the other branches of government and seeks to work with them. These people are not conservatives in this core civilized sense; they are partisan vandals.]
While Reid and the rest of the Democrats decide how to respond to the latest GOP gambit, hearings regarding the Pentagon report on DADT repeal implementation are slated to begin in the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday morning, Dec. 2 and continue through Dec. 3.
Read the GOP senators' letter: GOP Tax Letter.pdf