Harry Reid Vows DADT Repeal Vote During Senate Lame Duck Session

U.S. Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has confirmed that he will schedule votes on the repeal of the military ban on openly gay service personnel, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), and the DREAM Act during the Senate’s lame duck session of Congress.

However, while the DADT legislative repeal will be brought to the floor as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, the DREAM Act will this time be brought as a separate piece of legislation.

From Politico.com:

Top aides to both Reid and President Barack Obama told gay-rights activists Wednesday that the two Democratic leaders are “committed” to bringing the defense authorization bill, which includes language repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, to the floor after next week’s Thanksgiving recess.


“Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces,” Reid said in a statement Wednesday night. “We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so.”

In a separate statement, Reid pledged to bring the DREAM Act to the floor as a stand-alone bill. The legislation provides a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who complete two years of college or military service.

Led by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senate Republicans blocked both pieces of legislation when Reid and other Democrats tried to attach them to the defense authorization bill in late September. And GOP leaders don’t appear to have warmed to the proposals since the Nov. 2 election.

During September’s vote one issue was that Sen. Reid  stonewalled Republican amendments to the defense bill when he refused to allow a debate.

This time, Reid has been urged to work with Republican senators and allow for an extended debate period.

From The Boston Globe:

A dozen Democrats and Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said Reid should allow an extended debate on a wide-ranging defense policy bill, which includes a provision that would repeal the 1993 law known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.’’

The Senate’s desire to adjourn before the holidays was no reason to curtail debate and give Republicans an excuse to block the bill, Lieberman said.

“If that’s all that separates our military from getting all that they deserve in the defense authorization bill, including the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ shame on us,’’ he said. “I’m confident we can and will’’ pass the legislation.


Democrats expect to have the votes needed to advance the bill if an extended debate with GOP amendments is allowed. Jim Manley, spokesman for Reid, said yesterday no decision had been made on how much time would be allotted for debate.

This could be particularly useful in courting the moderate Republican vote. Senators like Susan Collins of Maine specifically noted Reid’s unwillingness to allow a debate as a reason to filibuster the last time the defense bill was brought to the floor.

Also, with leaked results of the Pentagon’s repeal implementation survey appearing to show that over 70 per cent of soldiers and their families are fine with repeal, the legitimate reasons for opposing the DADT repeal – such as waiting for the release of the DADT repeal implementation study on Dec. 1 – seem to be diminishing.

As such, should Senator John McCain try to repeat September’s filibuster, which seems likely given that he’s now said that the repeal study was flawed, he may not find such strong support for his opposition this time around.

However, the vote count in the Senate has always been tentative and while repeal advocates seem somewhat optimistic, it would be misleading to say that success is by any means a given.

You can catch up with the latest on the DREAM Act here

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to the U.S. Army Photostream.


Karen W.
Karen W7 years ago

This needs to go DADT is discrimination at its worst

Arvin E.
Arvin E.7 years ago

Why is the Don't Ask Don't Tell important? How about the fact that since 97 it has cost the American Tax payer over 300 million to replace people who are in critical fields of the military! It costs between 23,000 to 34,000 bucks to train these people.
This policy has caused investigations, witch hunts, and distrust among the troops. Female service members are put in a very bad situation when a guy hits on her, She says no, and he turns her in to the commander as being Gay.
The military has had sexual harrasment policy in place for years just as in the private sector. Every major military around the world have integrated gays, recruits in Pride Parades, and have had almost no problems with it and we won't either.
How do I know? I'm a Viet Nam vet, no I didn't boink my buddies and have an honorable discharge.

Doug G.
Doug G7 years ago

I don't get all this noise about gays in the military. There were some back in the seventities when I was in and most people in the barracks knew about it.
I even had a First Sergeant who was bi-sexual and made inappropriate advances toward a straight airman. When the airman went to the commander, it was he that got transfered to another base, not the Sergeant.
Can't we end this nonsensical crap that has been going on since Clinton and get back to the horrific problems this miserable society faces?

Barbara V.
Barbara V7 years ago

McCain, the biased, ignorant hatemonger

Stephen Young
Stephen Young7 years ago

DADT must go as soon possible

Morgan G.
Morgan Getham7 years ago

Frankly I don't see how this repeal can fail if debate and amendments are allowed on the bill. There will probably be a pro-forma amendment offered to strip the DADT provisions out of the bill, but obviously it will fall far short of passage. And given debate, enough Republicans will support the bill that just with the Democrats who have supported DADT in the past or would HAVE to support the bill because of the major importance of defense industries to their state it should be able to squeak by with at least 61.

And we will FINALLY be rid of this terribly contradictory, unjust, and ill-advised policy that I don't think REALLY satisfies anybody.

Melanie K.
Mel;anie K7 years ago

Faye, you don't like things being "slipped through"? What do you mean, Reid is "always trying to slide these bills through"? When has HE done this before? The whole Congress will be there, unlike when the Republicans extended time to vote on the Medicare Act, against Senate rules, and voted in the middle of the night so that Big Pharma could get their massive share along with the insurance companies.

I pray that they do "slip these through and that, if McCain tries to filibuster DADT, then they actually MAKE him do a real filibuster, not just say the word. And the same with the tax extensions for only those earning under $200K. Then I would celebrate.

Dee Cappelli
Dee C7 years ago

Faye S. with respect, the lame duck Congress is a full session of Congress. All the members of Congress are in attendance. It's just that some incumbents will not return in January when they're replaced by the newly elected members.

Marie W.
Marie W7 years ago

Just another way to keep attention on non-issues.

Scott F.
Scott F7 years ago

I have to say that some of the comments about this not being an important issue is misplaced. My dear gay soldier friend just got back from Iraq, and he served in a very dangerous position where they were fired on repeatedly. He is not given the right to be who he is. He has to live a lie. There are gays in the military, and there always have been. This is an outdated law that needs to end. How would anyone feel who is discharged 1 year short of getting their retirement. I think this is a serious issue, and it needs just as much attention as jobs and tax cuts. If you want to help, you can go to http://www.sldn.org/pages/about-dadt