Friday, December 10, 2010

DADT Repeal Dies in Senate Over Failed Leadership and Bush Tax Cuts

As we started the day Thursday we had so much hope that a deal would be struck in the senate and the National Defense Authorization Act containing DADT repeal would pass with the 60 needed votes to override a republican filibuster. The deal proposed by Republicans Susan Collins (ME), Scott Brown (MA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) was that they would support repeal, provided the senate took up the issue of whether or not to extend the Bush tax cuts, which included not just extending cuts for the wealthy, but for the rest of us as well.

They didn't say their support depended on passing the cuts, just bringing up for a vote before any other business. Sounds reasonable, right?

Due to the inept leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Armed Services Chair Carl Levin, the senate chose to push the NDAA to the head of the line, we lost those three key votes and one more from WVa Democrat Joe Manchin, killing repeal as part of the military spending package, which seemed to be our best chance for getting it done.

Reid blamed the defeat on Republican obstructionism, telling the Huffington Post, "It's clear that Republicans don't want to hold a vote on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' They want to block a bill on this at all costs, even if it means not passing the defense authorization bill for the first time in 48 years."

For her part, Collins said yesterday, "I thought we were extremely close to getting to an agreement yesterday." She added, "I think there was such a clear path to get this done and I am perplexed and frustrated that this important bill is going to become the victim of politics."

Senator Joe Lieberman is refusing to admit defeat and proposes a stand-alone bill for DADT repeal. He contends it would be easier to get to 60 votes, including Collins, Brown and Murkowski with a stand-alone bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hammering together a house version, which she says can be pushed though congress during the lame duck session. President Obama has also expressed support for the stand-alone bill.

I want to point out that both Virginia senators, Jim Webb and Mark Warner, who each said they were reserving their support for repeal pending the release of the DADT repeal study, voted for repeal yesterday. Please take a minute today to thank them both.Click the links above to send them an email.

It's looking more and more as though our best chance for winning the right to serve openly remains in the pending federal court challenge.

There will be a rally today at 12:00 noon at the intersection of Constitution Ave. and Delaware Ave., NE, Upper Senate Park, North of U.S. Capitol in Washington, calling on the senate to stay in town until this thing is done. Aubrey Sarvis of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network released a statement this morning, which says, in part:
“We need to be on the bill that moves, period. We support Sen. Lieberman’s plan to move a standalone bill. We also believe another viable option is the Continuing Resolution (CR) coming over from the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate and the President must remain in session and in Washington to find another path for repeal to get done in the lame-duck. We implore all who support repeal to join us TODAY outside the Senate at noon’, said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
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