Washington scrambles to pass DADT repeal after bill dies - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Washington scrambles to pass DADT repeal after bill dies

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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, preside over the roll call vote on Thursday. (Source: CNN) Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, preside over the roll call vote on Thursday. (Source: CNN)
Washington -

WASHINGTON (RNN) - Although Senate Republicans managed to block a key piece of legislation that would have repealed "Don't Ask Don't Tell," a bipartisan effort to revive the repeal is already under way.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained the amendment to repeal DADT, did not make it to the Senate floor for debate Thursday, failing 57-40, effectively killing the legislation.

In order for the bill to have advanced to the floor, 60 "yes" votes were required to block a Republican filibuster sponsored by Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Senators Joe Lieberman, I-CT, and Susan Collins, R-MN, announced Thursday they would introduce standalone legislation to repeal DADT by year's end. A repeal would put an end to the controversial policy banning openly gay individuals from serving in the military.

Lieberman said via Twitter that he spoke with Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, who indicated he would use "Rule 14" to bring the new legislation directly to the Senate floor, bypassing the approval of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The move was lauded Thursday evening by President Barack Obama, who made an appeal to the Senate to revisit the repeal issue during the current lame duck session.

"While today's vote was disappointing, it must not be the end of our efforts," Obama said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, said "an army of allies stands ready in the House" to pass the standalone legislation.

Collins, who was the sole Republican who crossed party lines and voted "yes" to bring the Defense Authorization bill to debate on the senate floor, criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, for rushing a vote on the policy.

Collins previously voted against debate of the NDAA on Sept. 21 because it lacked an amendment process that Republicans considered to be fair and open. She was working with Reid and Lieberman to negotiate a compromise that would satisfy Republicans.

"There is no reason why we could not have moved to consider that bill," Collins said in a joint news conference with Sen. Joe Lieberman immediately after the authorization bill was blocked. "I am extremely disappointed with senators who walked away from negotiations in which we were engaged and which were going well."

Collins said she was convinced the bill had more than the 60 signatures needed to pass to the floor for debate.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, a repeal backer, told CNN he voted "no" on the legislation in alignment with a promise made last month by Senate Republicans that no legislation would pass until the Bush-era tax cuts were renewed.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, did the same.

Repeal advocates criticized the senate for playing politics. 

"This was a major failure on the part of the senate to simply do its job and pass an annual Defense Authorization bill," said Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United. "Politics prevailed over responsibility today."

Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, who presides over the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a news release that he supported Reid's decision to introduce the legislation Thursday. He said swift action was necessary to accommodate what was expected to be a lengthy process.

Levin said he agreed to co-sponsor the defense legislation and to take any effective legislative path that might lead to a repeal.

"The vote against bringing this bill to the senate floor was a disservice to those who bear all the burdens of military service, and one more - the burden of constant anxiety that, just because of their sexual orientation, the nation that they love and want to serve may deny them the chance to do so," Levin said.

In her news briefing, Collins said the bill's importance reached beyond repealing DADT. The bill's failure would leave a war-plagued U.S. military without a budget for the upcoming year.

"This bill is important," she said. "It is important to our troops."

On a plane en route from Abu Dhabi to Andrews Air Force Base Friday morning, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates also made a plea for repeal, citing the adverse effects to the military should a repeal take place suddenly through the courts.

Three Senators were not present for the roll call vote: Sen. Sam Brownback, R-KS; John Cornyn, R-TX; and Blanche Lincoln, D-AR.

Freshman Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, was the only Democrat to vote "no."

Lincoln, who was at the dentist when the last-minute vote was called, voted "no" when debate was previously considered.

Gay rights activists are now calling on President Barack Obama to sign a "stop-loss" order to prevent servicemen and women from being discharged - a temporary fix until a permanent solution can be reached.

"The Senate's apparent refusal to act on ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal makes presidential action imperative in order for him to fulfill his state of the union promise," Solmonese said. "The only measure of success is an end to the discharges and anything less is unacceptable."

Solmonese said his group will not stop the fight to end DADT until the law is left in the "dustbin of history."

For proponents of a repeal, passage of the defense bill by the end of the lame duck session was crucial to getting DADT repealed before the more socially conservative Republicans take control of the House and increase their numbers in the Senate in January.

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