MSNBC's Contessa Brewer thinks the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is a national "priority" that needs to be passed during the lame duck session.
While the Senate considers stand-alone repeal of the ban against openly gay service members today, the MSNBC daytime anchor pressed Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.): "What do you make of the people who say there might not be enough time to do this during the lame duck session? Why not? Shouldn't this be a priority?"
Lieberman, who supports repeal, insisted that repealing the controversial measure now "must be a priority," despite a recent poll showing that only 32 percent of Americans think that taking up the issue is "very important." In fact, 56 percent of the public believes that "passing legislation that would keep the estate tax from increasing significantly" is "very important," and 50 percent believe that extending at least "some form" of the Bush tax cuts is "very important."
Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) ranked second only to the DREAM Act, which would grant a pathway to citizenship for minors, as the least important issue to address during the closing days of the 111th Congress.
During the exchange, the Connecticut independent who caucuses with Democrats let slip the real reason the Democrats think they need to take up DADT before the end of the year: "Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell has to be done this year because I'm worried we won't have the votes to do it next year."
That's right, repealing DADT is a national priority, according to Sen. Lieberman, not because it is best for the country, but because if Senate Democrats don't pass it now, they probably won't have the votes to do it when the 112th Congress sits in January.
Concurring with Sen. Liebermann about the urgency of the moment, Brewer concluded the segment by asserting that it is "long past time" to repeal the measure.
A partial transcript of the segment can be found below:
December 16, 2010
12:24 p.m.. EST
CONTESSA BREWER: What do you make of the people who say there might not be enough time to do this during the lame duck session? Why not? Shouldn't this be a priority?
Sen. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I-Conn.): This must be a priority. I mean, this is an injustice, it's un-American to tell people who want to serve our country, want to put their lives on the line. We need them in the military. To tell them no you can't do it because you're gay or lesbian. That's not the American way. The reality is that we've got the votes. It's really up to Senator Reid. In my opinion, we're on the START treaty ratification, nuclear arms control, we're going back Saturday for the funding for the fiscal year coming up. That's got to be done by Saturday night. I believe instead of going back to the START treaty, we should go to the independent, stand-along repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell Saturday night. We can get it done by Monday, maybe Tuesday at the latest, Tuesday morning. Then go back to the START treaty if they want, but repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell has to be done this year because I'm worried we won't have the votes to do it next year. The START treaty can be ratified next year.
BREWER: So just in terms of timing, has Harry Reid told you that he would be willing to do that? What are you hearing from the Senate Majority Leader?
LIEBERMAN: Not yet, but the Senate Majority Leader certainly told me he would bring it to the floor. The House passed it during a special procedure meaning opponents cannot filibuster taking up the bill. They can only have one filibuster on this one, and that is before passage. And as I said, I know we got 61, we might even surprise and get 62, 63 votes. It's time for this to end and for us to be fair about it and get the best possible people we can to serve in our military.
BREWER: Long past time. Senator–
LIEBERMAN: Long past time is right. We can't let the clock, or people's desire to get home. I know everybody wants to get home for Christmas. Most people work up to the day before. If we stay here till Thursday, let's say, and we leave Thursday, that gives people plenty of time to get the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell done and maybe do the START treaty as well.
BREWER: Senator Lieberman, always a pleasure. I appreciate your time.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.