Earlier today, the GOP successfully filibustered the Department of Defense authorization bill, with the Senate voting 56-43 mostly party lines, with Democrats voting for the bill which included the repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and offering young immigrants a path to citizenship with the Dream Act. The NY Times explains, "Senate Republicans voted unanimously to block debate on the bill — the huge, annual authorization of military programs — after the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would attach a number of the Democrats’ election-year priorities to it while also moving to limit the amendments offered by Republicans."
Arkansas Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor voted with the 40 Republican Senators; Alaska's Linda Murkowski did not vote, while Reid switched his vote to no, which means he'll be able to ask for a revote later. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who supports repealing DADT, said, "For the life of me, I do not understand why the majority leader does not bring this bill to the floor and allow free and open debate and amendments from both sides of the aisle."
Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) said it was "a blatant and cynical attempt to galvanize the Hispanic vote in the case of the DREAM Act and to also energize the gay and lesbian vote in the case of 'don't ask, don' t tell." (The Dream Act gives legal residency to young immigrants who serve two years in the military or spend two years in college.)
Here are some comments from local politicians and activists on the vote:
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
I am deeply disappointed that not one single Republican Senator voted to commence debate on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the repeal of which is supported even amongst high-ranking military officials. Once again, crucial legislation continues to fall victim to the Republican Party’s policy of election-year obstructionism.
We will continue to fight for the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," a military policy that institutionalizes discrimination against gay men and women, and silences so many of our brave men and women in uniform.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:
“For nearly two decades, we’ve discharged thousands of America’s best, brightest and bravest on immoral and unconstitutional grounds. The military's ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ policy undermines the integrity of our military, hurts our national security, and contradicts the moral foundation upon which this country was founded.
“The continuous obstructionism is wrong and must end.
“It has been more than nine years since 9/11 and the Senate still has failed to move forward on legislation to provide health care for the thousands of first responders who served at Ground Zero and survivors living in the area. It is time to seize every opportunity to pass this legislation. This should not be a partisan issue. We have an undeniable moral obligation to pass this legislation and provide care to the thousands of heroes and survivors, who are suffering and dying.
“It is time for us in Congress to do what’s right, restore integrity to our armed forces, put our national security before politics and ideology, and keep our promise to the heroes of this country who came to our rescue on 9/11.”
Make the Road New York's Francisco Curiel:
"We are extremely disappointed that several Senators stood in the way of a common sense bill that would benefit our country and help thousands of youth. This vote makes it very clear that Republicans and Democrats who voted against the DREAM Act voted against Latino youth and their families."
Service Employees International Union's Hector Figueroa, who is 32BJ Secretary Treasurer:
“Denying students the opportunity to stay legally in the USA is not only morally wrong but economically dim-witted. By blocking passage of the DREAM Act the GOP has left hundreds of thousands of highly motivated students and future entrepreneurs, doctors and scientists in a state of limbo that will take a toll in our “high-skills-hungry” economy.”
With more than 120,000 members in eight states, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.