He thought four days' debate would stretch into much longer. Sargent:

I have now spoken to a senior Senate aide and put together what happened and why Reid did this.

Reid concluded that even if Collins was sincere in her promise to vote for repeal if given the four days of debate, there was no way to prevent the proceedings from taking longer, the aide says. Reid decided that the cloture vote, the 30 hours of required post-cloture debate, and procedural tricks mounted by conservative Senators who adamantly oppose repeal would have dragged the process on far longer.

"It would have been much more than four days," the aide says. "Her suggestions were flat out unworkable given how the Senate really operates. You can talk about four days until the cows come home. That has very little meaning for Coburn and DeMint and others who have become very skilled at grinding this place to a halt."

The bottom line: "Reid couldn't be certain conservative Senators wouldn't use the proceedings to foul up the Senate, with time running out on other major priorities." So, once again, the gays go to the back of line. Reid shares some of this blame - but the only real reason this hasn't gotten through is Republican opposition, in particular McCain.