A Senate procedural vote to move forward with debate on a bill ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” law failed Thursday to earn the 60 votes necessary to proceed, delivering a significant blow to efforts to allow gays to serve openly.
Despite the setback, senators fighting to end the ban said they would introduce a separate bill to repeal it.
The bill will be cosponsored by Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who often work together on homeland security and defense issues. They said the bill will have bipartisan support.
President Obama expressed disappointment and urged senators to reconsider the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the lame-duck session.
“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,” Obama said in a statement. “This annual bill has been enacted each of the past 48 years, and our armed forces deserve nothing less this year.”
Senators voted 57 to 40 to advance the NDAA, which contained language ending the ban, as all Republicans except Collins held firm on a vow to block any legislation that does not address tax cuts or government spending. One Democrat, Sen. Joseph Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted against.
I will believe the stand-alone repeal when I see the president sign it.
Oh, and I concur with Steve Benen:
For those inclined to blame President Obama for Senate Republicans defeating repeal today, spare me. The White House clearly pushed for repeal, and did everything possible to use the Pentagon’s report last week to apply the necessary pressure to deliver. By most counts, there really are 60 votes to make repeal a reality, and that’s the case because President Obama has helped take the lead on the issue. If you’re looking to blame someone, I’d start with 40 senators who filibustered today.