Lieberman Optimistic for Repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-CT, lead author of legislation to repeal the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy toward gay men and women, just got a question from Fox cameraman John Wallace as he was about to sit down for a meeting with Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

Wallace asked Lieberman about Sen. Scott Brown's recent decision to vote against the repeal when a vote comes before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Here's what Lieberman said:

"I talked to Sen brown. I’m disappointed. I hope it’s a temporary 'no' vote. He really wants to wait and see what the working group of Secy Gates reports.

"This was always going to be a close vote both in the committee and I think on the floor of the Senate and the House.  To me what’s really important is that the American people have decided that it doesn’t make sense anymore to prohibit gay men and women who want to serve our country, particularly when our country needs the capabilities that they have."

Two votes Lieberman cannot count on are those of his closest allies, Sens. John McCain, R-AZ, and Lindsey Graham, R-SC.   McCain, who wants favored repeal, said now is not the time for this when the country is fighting two wars.

Graham just told me he will not support his friend. "Joe has made a personal, political decision. I respect his decision," Graham said, but "I'm not going to vote for anything until I hear from the men and women in uniform, and then I don't know how I'm going to vote."

Graham was referring to the military full review of a possible repeal to determine the effects of such a policy on the armed forces. That review is to be completed and submitted to Congress by December 1.

Still, the compromise Lieberman reached with DOD and the White House takes into account that review.   Any repeal would be contingent on the review and would have to be approved by both the Defense Secretary and the President.

A spokesman for committee member - Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, tells Fox that his boss is likely to support Lieberman.

Prospects for committee passage appear to be good, as the panel is divided 16 to 12, Democrats to Republicans.   And despite Brown's 'no' vote, along with most of his Republican colleagues and likely that of conservative Sen. Ben Nelson, D-NE, Lieberman feels good about the prospects of repeal.

"I’m still optimistic we're gonna get this done this year," Lieberman predicted.

The House is expected to take up the repeal later this week, with Iraq war veteran Cong. Patrick Murphy, D-PA, leading the mirror image effort in that chamber.