Attempt to Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Kills Dream Act

September 23, 2010 03:55

It was not a good day for those who wanted a straight vote of the Defense Appropriations bill. Sen. Reid (D – Nev.) would not permit that.

From The Americano

Supporters of the Dream Act had their hopes shattered Tuesday, as 43 senators – 40 Republicans  and three Democrats – prevented a Defense Appropriations Bill from even being debated. It’s defeat came as Senate President Harry Reid’s attempted to have the bill also include the elimination of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that regulates how gays may serve in the military.

It was not a good day for those who wanted a straight vote of the Defense Appropriations bill. Sen. Reid (D – Nev.) would not permit that. And it was not a good day for those who wanted the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy” or for those who supported the Dream Act. This amendment would have opened a path to legal residency and eventually citizenship for undocumented children who were brought to the United States by their parents and have lived most of their lives in this country.

It was not a good day for any of these groups. Sen. Reid decided to play a game of all or nothing and was rebuffed by the complete 40 member Republican senatorial caucus and included two senators who caucus with the Democrats. Reid was the third Democratic no vote in a procedural move that will allow him to bring up the bills and its amendments again.

Now Reid has to decide if he wants to allow the Senate to vote on a clear Defense Appropriations bill or if he wants to hold our military hostage to issues the White House had promised to enact in President Barack Obama’s first term in office. Issues that had never been brought to the Senate before now.

Republicans blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans. All agree, however, that it was a clear political play, and the one who decides how the game is played in the U.S. Senate is Reid.

But even before the issue got to the Senate Tuesday, it was being rebuked by President Obama’s own nominee to be the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Marine General James Amos, Obama’s nominee to head the Marine Corps, told a Senate panel Tuesday that he opposed lifting the military’s ban on openly serving homosexuals. This came only hours before the Senate vote against repealing the law.

“I’m concerned that a change now will serve as a distraction to Marines who are tightly focused at this point on combat operations in Afghanistan,” Marine General Amos told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The mainstream media did not play the story straight. The Associated Press lead said that “Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked legislation that would have repealed the law banning gays from serving openly in the military.”

Now, gay rights advocates say they worry they have lost a crucial opportunity to change the law. If Democrats lose seats in the upcoming elections this fall, repealing the ban could prove even more difficult — if not impossible — next year.

“The whole thing is a political train wreck,” said Richard Socarides, a former White House adviser on gay rights during the Clinton administration.

Socarides said President Barack Obama “badly miscalculated” the Pentagon’s support for repeal, while Democrats made only a “token effort” to advance the bill. He added that Democrats had played with the bill. “If it was a priority for the Democratic leadership, they would get a clean vote on this,” he said.

A number of Republicans, like Senator John McCain (R – Ariz.) who favor repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation, opposed voting on repealing it  before a Pentagon review on the subject is completed later this year. The heads of the four branches of the armed forces requested this study, which should be completed by December 1.

Some Republicans were also unhappy with Democratic plans to bring up immigration-related legislation known as the “Dream Act” as an amendment to the bill. It would provide a conditional path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants if they go to college or do military service.

McCain charged Democrats were aiming simply for Hispanic and gay votes. “This is a blatant political ploy in order to try to galvanize the political base of the other side which is faced with losing an election.”

Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas sided with Republicans to block the bill. Reid, D-Nev., also voted against the measure as a procedural tactic. Under Senate rules, casting his vote with the majority of the Senate enables him to revive the bill at a later date if he wants.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine had been seen as the crucial 60th vote because she supports overturning the military ban. But Collins agreed with her GOP colleagues that Republicans weren’t given sufficient chance to offer amendments.

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