A vote to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy, which bans openly gay soldiers from serving in the nation’s military, was defeated in the Senate Thursday.
The final cloture vote of 57-40 on the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill, which included the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” provision, fell short of the 60 votes necessary to avoid a Republican filibuster.
Republicans voted against the legislation, citing their pledge to block any legislation coming before the upper chamber until bills extending the Bush-era tax cuts and funding the government through 2011 are completed.
Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) lamented the Republican threat to torpedo any legislation on the Senate floor until those other priorities were met. He then called the vote, knowing it would probably fail, because of the lack of time remaining in the lame duck Congress.
"They’re not allowing us to do anything legislatively,” he said before asking for the vote.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of only three supporters of a repeal on her side of the aisle, who had been involved in the discussions with Reid, lamented that the bill was doomed to failure by the legislative process. “I am perplexed and frustrated that this important bill is going to become a victim of politics,” she said in response to Reid. She voted for the bill.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) came out in support of a repeal Wednesday, but warned that she would vote No "if the majority attempts to push it through allowing little or no debate or votes on amendments." She ended up voting No.
Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown also voted No on the bill because of the way in which it was handled, despite supporting a repeal.
The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was put into place in 1993 by former President Bill Clinton as a compromise with Republicans, after campaigning on a platform of allowing gays to serve openly.
A government report, released last week, found that 70 percent of US soldiers surveyed by the Pentagon did not object to gays serving openly in the military. In addition, 92 percent said their experiences serving with co-workers they believed to be gay or lesbian were either "very good," "good" or "neither good nor poor."
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen have come out in support of a repeal while other military leaders such as Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George Casey and Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos oppose it.