Republicans Filibuster Defense Bill
Republicans just successfully filibustered a defense authorization bill, killing an effort by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to attach the DREAM Act and a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to the bill. All Democrats voted to bring the bill to the floor, but they were unable to win support of any Republicans to bypass the filibuster. The final vote tally was 56 “yeas” and 43 “nays.”
Republicans argued the two bills were unrelated to defense and had no place in the defense authorization bill. The DREAM Act would allow some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to earn legal status through two years of college or military service. A repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
Reid previously said he would allow only three amendments before the election: a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; the DREAM Act; and an amendment to ban the practice of placing “secret holds” on presidential nominees. But Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee reiterated today that Reid has since said he would be willing to accept other amendments. Reid said last Thursday he is “willing to work with Republicans on a process that will permit the Senate to consider these matters and complete the bill as soon as possible.”
Democrats hoped some moderate Republicans, such as Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe would vote to move forward with the bill. Although both indicated they might support a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell down the line, they said they would not support Reid’s actions to limit amendments on the bill. Both voted against bringing the bill to the floor.
UPDATE: To clarify, the nay tally includes Sen. Reid’s vote, which he changed to nay in order to keep procedural options open. Reid originally voted yea.