Breathing new life into a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in the lame-duck session, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), made good on his promise Thursday, and introduced Senate Bill 4022, “a bill to provide for the repeal of the Department of Defense policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”
The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.).
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday evening that “an army of allies stands ready in the House to pass a standalone repeal of the discriminatory policy once the Senate acts.”
A last-ditch effort in Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has failed — again.
A key procedural vote on the Defense Authorization bill, which contains the DADT repeal language, failed Thursday by a vote of 57-40. Democrats needed 60 votes to advance the bill for debate on the Senate floor.
With the failure to find cloture, those hoping for an end to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy before Congressional numbers shift in favor of the Republicans next year are likely not going to get their wish.
President Obama and many Democrats had committed to repealing the ban this year, but it looks like a truncated legislative schedule in the lame duck and Republican promises to block everything until tax cuts were passed put the future of a repeal this year on extremely thin ice — and that ice just cracked.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev.), called for the vote on Thursday afternoon without having reached a procedural agreement with moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who supports repeal but wanted greater openness for the process of amending and passing the bill.
Given the brief time left before the Senate ends its session, Reid said there is not enough time to allow for all of the Republicans’ requests and proceeded to a cloture vote.
Voting “no” were three Senators who’d said they support repeal in principle but had also voiced similar procedural concerns — Republicans Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Scott Brown (Mass.), and Democrat Joe Manchin (W.Va.)
“It’s clear that Republicans don’t want to hold a vote on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,'” said Reid. “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.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.), called the Republican-led blockage a “procedural slap in the face.”
Update, 5:15 p.m. ET: Not more than an hour after key procedural vote on the Defense Authorization bill failed Thursday, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) sent out a series of Twitter tweets, indicating he plans to introduce a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal as “stand alone” vote this session.
Lieberman reports that Reid will invoke “Rule 14” on the free-standing DADT repeal, so that it bypasses committee and is brought directly to the Senate floor before the end of the lame-duck session — Lieberman and says the necessary 60 votes are there. More on this story here.
Update, 5:30 p.m. ET: The White House released this statement from President Barack Obama:
I am extremely disappointed that yet another filibuster has prevented the Senate from moving forward with the National Defense Authorization Act. Despite having the bipartisan support of a clear majority of Senators, a minority of Senators are standing in the way of the funding upon which our troops, veterans and military families depend. This annual bill has been enacted each of the past 48 years, and our armed forces deserve nothing less this year.
A minority of Senators were willing to block this important legislation largely because they oppose the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal this discriminatory law, a step supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and informed by a comprehensive study that shows overwhelming majorities of our armed forces are prepared to serve with Americans who are openly gay or lesbian. A great majority of the American people agree. This law weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity and equality.
I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Armed Services Committee Chairman Levin, and Senators Lieberman and Collins for all the work they have done on this bill. While today’s vote was disappointing, it must not be the end of our efforts. I urge the Senate to revisit these important issues during the lame duck session.
Update, 7:00 p.m. ET: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has issued this statement:
“The bipartisan proposal from Senators Lieberman and Collins provides renewed hope that progress is still possible in the Senate; an army of allies stands ready in the House to pass a standalone repeal of the discriminatory policy once the Senate acts.”