Here's what Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that she needs to support a full Senate debate on the defense authorization bill (the vehicle for Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal): 15 guaranteed votes on amendments (10 for Republicans, and 5 for Democrats), and somewhere around four days to debate the bill.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already promised her the 15 amendments, but his initial offer was for a day or two of debate. Here's her response to reporters tonight, after a Senate vote.
"The majority leader's allotment of time for to debate those amendments was extremely short, so I have suggested doubling the amount of time, assuring that there would be votes, and making sure that the Republicans get to pick our own amendments as opposed to the Majority Leader."
"If he does that I will do all that I can to help him proceed to the bill. But if he does not do that, then I will not," she added.
Late this evening, per Collins' request, Reid delayed a test vote he'd planned to hold tonight.
"Everyone on the Republican side wants to see the tax package completed first," Collins said.
On the surface it looks like Collins is playing the same stall game that Senate Republicans perfected throughout the health care reform debate. There's a reason that took a year plus to pass. Josh Marshall thinks this is all noteworthy:
Collins has finally made her demands concrete and public. And they are not outrageous. At one point she wanted or was said to want two weeks of debate. Now she's asking for a manageable 4 days. Would we have gotten here anyway? Maybe. Did Reid's forcing the issue make the difference? Hard to say for sure, but probably.
This much is clear: the day started with DADT repeal looking completely dead and ends with a very plausible way forward to 60 votes in the Senate in this lame duck session. Not a done deal yet, but prospects for repeal are a whole lot better than they were 12 hours ago.
We'll see. Since I believe the tax deal is going to fall apart, Collins hinging her support on the tax deal being completed means no DADT repeal and probably no DREAM Act either. Frankly, nothing's changed as far as I'm concerned. It's just a matter of how bad the resulting final emergency deal is. Collins is playing her part. She will stall, but she will never vote for either item.
There is no such thing as a moderate Republican in Congress, just varying methods of blocking Obama's agenda.