Tuesday, September 21, 2010

LOOK what those BASTARDS are doing. . . . . . !

September 21, 2010

Move to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Stalls in Senate

WASHINGTON — With Congress increasingly paralyzed by the partisan fury of the midterm elections, the Senate on Tuesday voted against taking up a major military bill that includes a provision allowing the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell policy” regarding gay soldiers.

Senate Republicans voted unanimously to block debate on the bill — the huge, annual authorization of military programs — after the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would attach a number of the Democrats’ election-year priorities to it while also moving to limit the amendments offered by Republicans.

The vote was 56 to 43, with Democrats falling short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster and take up the bill. The Arkansas Democrats, Senators Blanche L. Lincoln and Mark Pryor, sided with all 40 Republicans present in opposing debate. Mr. Reid switched his vote to no at the last minute, a procedural maneuver that allows him to call for a revote.

Congress has approved the annual Pentagon authorization bill for 48 consecutive years, and it seems likely that the measure will be brought up again after the election in the relatively calmer — if somewhat unpredictable — atmosphere of a lame-duck session.

The House has already approved legislation allowing the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the provision will likely be easier to pass in the Senate after Dec. 1 when a Pentagon study on the effects of ending the policy is due.

As it stands, the Senate measure would not allow repeal of the policy until after the study is completed and President Obama and top military commanders certify that ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” would not harm morale or impede battle readiness of the armed forces.

Among the amendments that Mr. Reid had pledged to attach to the bill was an immigration measure that would create a path to citizenship for certain illegal aliens who arrived in the United States as children.
That effort was viewed by Republicans as a naked political ploy to mobilize Hispanic voters in races across the country, including Mr. Reid’s own re-election campaign in Nevada.

While Democrats immediately sought to blame Republicans for obstructing both the immigration measure, known as the Dream Act, and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” it is unclear how the measures, and the military bill itself, would have fared under less intense political circumstances.

The language allowing the Pentagon to end the provision, for instance, was approved last spring by the Senate Armed Services Committee, and at the time even won the support of one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Top military leaders including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have called for the repeal.

Since the repeal provision is now part of the base military bill, opponents of a repeal would need the support of 60 senators to remove it — an unlikely prospect.

In addition, at least one Democrat who opposed the repeal language, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, had said he would not vote against the overall bill simply to maintain the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy.
But substantive policy disagreements were a secondary consideration in the skirmishing on the Senate floor on Tuesday. Ms. Collins, who is aligned with Democrats on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal, nonetheless voted against allowing debate to begin, and sharply criticized Mr. Reid for politicizing the military measure.

“There are many controversial issues in this bill,” Ms. Collins said in a floor speech. “They deserve to have a civil, fair and open debate on the Senate floor, and that is why I am so disappointed that rather than allowing full and open debate and the opportunity for amendments from both sides of the aisle, the majority leader apparently intends to shut down the debate and exclude Republicans from offering a number of amendments.”
From a policy perspective, the immigration measure was more controversial and Democrats seemed likely to face opposition to it not only by Republicans but from within their own ranks.

Adding the measure to the bill would similarly require 60 votes, and aides in both parties said the effort would likely have failed. Mr. Reid had effectively invited Republicans to block the bill by announcing beforehand that there was simply no time to finish debate on the military authorization bill and that it would have to be completed after the election.

Still, Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan and chairman of the Armed Services Committee, had urged his colleagues to allow the debate to get underway. “We should not deny the Senate the opportunity to take up a bill, which is essential for the men and women in the military because we disagree with some of the provisions in the bill,” Mr. Levin said.

Going forward, the broader military measure is not without complications. Although the Obama administration strongly supports repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the White House has already threatened to veto the House version of the military bill over several provisions that it opposes, including the authorization of $485 million for construction of an extra engine for the F-35 joint strike fighter. The White House believes that spending is wasteful.


Gary Kelly said...

I have no idea what our policy in Oz is in relation to gays in the army. But I do have a friend who was a two-striper in the Aussie army. She retired many years ago but gave me a wink and a nod when I raised the subject one day.


J said...

The irony of this is that Reed might have won his vote had he not larded the bill up with a big illegal immigration amnesty and other measures more controversial than don't ask don't tell, and then sought to bar any floor amendments. His approach was so extreme he lost the crucial support of Republican Senator Collins from Maine. This performance was so sorry a lot of people think Reed didn't intend for the bill to pass. All he wanted was some red meat to throw his political base before the November election. Additionally, the Defense Department review of DADT will be completed on December 1. A lot of congressmen want to hear that report before they get on board with the legislation. As it stands, Adm. Mullen, the JCS Chairman, and Defense Secretary Gates support lifting the ban. Opposed is the new Marine commandant. If the report supports a change, DADT will become history during the congressional lame duck session.

JustinO'Shea said...

J. . .your analysis is much more positive than the report sounds. I watched bot NBC and CBS news this evening. . . our elected look and sound rather pathetic. Reed is a sad case. . . .


J said...

There's a great article tited "Why Democrats are pushing a series of bills doomed to fail" in today's Christian Science Monitor that explains the whole strategy. There's something extraordinarily cruel about any "strategy" that involves getting people's hopes up in order to dash them. It could backfire.