Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unexpectedly pulled the omnibus bill from the Senate floor on Thursday evening, and instead filed cloture on the stand-alone “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, clearing the way for a Senate vote this weekend.
Reid announced that he will hold a cloture vote on both the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” measure, and the DREAM Act on Saturday:
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Filing for cloture is how you cut off a filibuster.
Basically, you file a petition for cloture, you wait two days for it to “ripen,” then you vote on it. If you get 60 votes, cloture is invoked and the legislation can be considered for no more than 30 additional hours, when you have to have a final vote.
Thus when you vote for cloture, you vote against a filibuster.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who sponsored the stand alone measure in the Senate, said he now has the necessary votes to break the months-long GOP filibuster led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“We’ve got not 60, but now 61 members of the U.S. Senate publicly committed to the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Lieberman said.
Democrats have 57 votes in favor — only Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), is expected to vote no. At least four Republicans are expected to vote in favor of repeal — Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts.
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is the 17-year-old ban on openly gay service members; the DREAM Act would grant pathways to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants. Votes on the two measures will be Saturday morning — the DREAM will go first, followed by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
If cloture in invoked Saturday, a final vote on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would occur by Monday, or Tuesday at the latest.
The House version of the stand alone repeal was passed in that chamber on Wednesday.