At 12:15 pm ET Friday Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is announcing they are holding a sit-in in the Senate gallery until a 'DADT' repeal vote is taken. Senator Joseph Lieberman is planning to join them at the press conference.
Servicemembers United has also been actively lobbying (see end of post).
Senator Joe Lieberman appeared on MSNBC this afternoon and said that he believes 'DADT' repeal should be voted on this weekend, before any vote on the START treaty, because the treaty can be ratified next year.
"Let’s be clear, we would not be at this point if it wasn’t for the President’s leadership in bringing this issue to the floor. You mentioned, I believe we have the votes….There is time to do this if there are those on the other side of the aisle that wish to get this done and it’s clear that whether it’s Senator Brown or Senator Murkowski or Senator Snowe or others, there is an effort to get this done if we have time to."
Finally, Joe Biden (See clip below) doesn't want to hear the Senate nonsense about Christmas! He was talking about the START treaty, but when is one of our leaders going to start making these demands about DADT?
Active lobbying is being undertaken by Servicemembers United
Servicemembers United, the nation's largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, announced today that, for a second day in a row, teams of DADT repeal advocates have fanned out across Capitol Hill as part of the Servicemembers United Action Fund's "OPERATION RENEWED ENGAGEMENT." The campaign is geared toward raising visibility for the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue on Capitol Hill in the waning days of the lame duck session and toward pressuring Senate offices that are supportive of repeal to also support staying in session long enough to let the issue get a final vote.
"Despite the ongoing snow storm in Washington, DC right now, gay veterans and allies are storming the Hill for a second day in a row to demand that the Senate finish the job on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' before leaving for the holidays," said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and the Servicemembers United Action Fund. "The fact that these advocates are braving the snow to fight for what they believe in should demonstrate that we will not accept any excuses from lawmakers for failing to get this done, including bad weather or time running out."
Repeal supporters will be on the Hill for one final day on Friday as part of this campaign. Those interested in joining OPERATION RENEWED ENGAGEMENT on Friday, December 17th from 1:00pm – 4:00pm should contact Jarrod Chlapowski at email@example.com today.
What you can do is contact your Senators, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and demand a vote on 'DADT' before the holidays.
The phone number for the switchboard is (202) 224-3121. Call today.
WASHINGTON - Today the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, praised the bipartisan proposal under the leadership of Sens. Lieberman and Collins that emerged this evening to pass repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a stand-alone piece of legislation. The news comes from a bipartisan group of Senators after today’s failed vote to proceed to debate on the National Defense Authorization Act. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued the following statement:
“There has always been strong support in the Senate for repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and in recent days it’s become clear that support reaches far beyond 60 votes. The issue has been the procedure by which the defense bill would be considered and given that no agreement was in place before today’s vote on the motion to proceed, that effort was doomed to failure.
“Thankfully a bipartisan group of Senators has committed to finding an alternative method of achieving repeal. We encourage all Senators to expeditiously take up this bill and pass it quickly so that the military has the power to implement a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’
“The fight for open service has had many twists and turns but until ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is left in the dustbin of history we will never give up the fight.”
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
# # #
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as info, links and video becomes available. ~Louise From the White House:
Statement by the President on the Senate Vote on the National Defense Authorization Act
I am extremely disappointed that yet another filibuster has prevented the Senate from moving forward with the National Defense Authorization Act. 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. This annual bill has been enacted each of the past 48 years, and our armed forces deserve nothing less this year.
A minority of Senators were willing to block this important legislation largely because they oppose the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal this discriminatory law, a step supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and informed by a comprehensive study that shows overwhelming majorities of our armed forces are prepared to serve with Americans who are openly gay or lesbian. A great majority of the American people agree. This law weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity and equality.
I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Armed Services Committee Chairman Levin, and Senators Lieberman and Collins for all the work they have done on this bill. While today’s vote was disappointing, it must not be the end of our efforts. I urge the Senate to revisit these important issues during the lame duck session.
In a major blow to repeal efforts, Senate Republicans on Thursday afternoon blocked the Defense spending bill that includes an amendment that would end “don’t ask don’t tell.”
However, advocacy groups insisted that DADT repeal isn’t dead in the lame duck session despite the setback. A short time after the vote, senators who support DADT repeal said they plan to introduce a stand-alone measure to end the 17-year-old ban on open service.
The Senate voted 57-40 on a motion to proceed with the Defense bill, falling three votes short of the necessary 60, after negotiations apparently broke down between Majority Leader Harry Reid and key Republicans. Reid and other pro-repeal Democrats needed 60 votes to end a filibuster, but they were unable to reach a deal with Republicans concerning the rules for debate and amendments.
Reid blamed Republican opponents of repeal for stalling on the Defense bill in an effort to “run out the clock” on DADT repeal. He said every time he met their demands, they came back with something different.
“They want to block a vote on this issue [DADT repeal] at all costs even if it means we do not pass a Defense Authorization bill for the first time in 48 years, and even if it means our troops don’t get the funding and the protections they need,” Reid said. “In my effort to get this done, I don’t know how I could have been more reasonable. … It’s our troops that will pay the price for our inability to overcome partisan political posturing.”
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who supports a repeal of DADT but had said she would only vote to move forward on the Defense bill after the Senate addresses tax cuts, pleaded with Reid not to call for a cloture vote on the Defense bill Thursday.
“I am perplexed and frustrated that this important bill is going to become a victim of politics,” Collins said during an exchange with Reid on the floor prior to the vote. “We should be able to do better, and Sen. [Joe] Lieberman and I have been bargaining in good faith with the majority leader. … I just want to say that I’m perplexed as to what has happened and why we’re not going forward in a constructive way that would lead to success.”
Despite her statement, Collins was the lone Republican to favor of Reid’s motion, but only after it was clear it didn’t have enough votes to pass. Other Republicans who’ve said they support DADT repeal, Scott Brown of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against Reid’s motion for cloture on the bill.
Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also voted against the motion, but Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was absent for the vote. Cornyn has said he opposes DADT repeal.
Shortly after the vote, Collins and Lieberman announced they plan to introduce a stand-alone bill to repeal DADT, but prospects for the bill are unclear given that even if it passes the Senate, it will have to go to the House for approval, and time is running short.
“We support Sen. Lieberman’s plan to move a stand-alone bill,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a leading repeal advocacy group. “We also believe another viable option is the Continuing Resolution (CR) coming over from the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate and the president must remain in session and in Washington to find another path for repeal to get done in the lame-duck.”
President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was “extremely disappointed” in the Senate vote.
“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. “This annual bill has been enacted each of the past 48 years, and our armed forces deserve nothing less this year.
“A minority of Senators were willing to block this important legislation largely because they oppose the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” the president said. “As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal this discriminatory law, a step supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and informed by a comprehensive study that shows overwhelming majorities of our armed forces are prepared to serve with Americans who are openly gay or lesbian. A great majority of the American people agree. This law weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity and equality.
“I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Armed Services Committee Chairman Levin, and Senators Lieberman and Collins for all the work they have done on this bill,” Obama added. “While today’s vote was disappointing, it must not be the end of our efforts. I urge the Senate to revisit these important issues during the lame duck session.”
Earlier, after the vote, the Human Rights Campaign called on Obama to immediately halt discharges under DADT and stop defending the policy in court.
“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,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said. “The only measure of success is an end to the discharges and anything less is unacceptable.
“In this time of war, we cannot sustain a policy that has already deprived our military of thousands of service members, many with critical skills in fighting terrorism,” said Solmonese. “Every day that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is in force, Americans are losing out on the best and brightest service members defending our country. If Congress won’t act, it’s up to the President to clean up the mess they made when they enacted this discriminatory and unconstitutional law nearly two decades ago.”
ROLL CALL ON MOTION TO PROCEED WITH DEFENSE SPENDING BILL:
I am confident that we have more than 60 votes prepared to take up the defense authorization with the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ if only there will be a guarantee of a fair and open amendment process, in other words, whether we’ll take enough time to do it.
—Sen. Joe Lieberman, taking the mic with 13 Senate Democrats by his side, insisting there are enough votes to push through a DADT repeal whether McCain likes it or not. The trick to bring on Republican support? Having Harry Reid grant them enough time to bitch, which will be hard given the Senate's tight lame duck schedule. (Something about taxes?)
Sen. Joe Lieberman said he is “confident” there are more than enough votes to pass the defense bill with “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal if Sen. Harry Reid offers an amendment process that’s fair to Republicans. Advocate.com: Daily News
He’s an independent and she’s a Republican. This is great of Susan Collins to do this. From Josh Gerstein:
On Monday, Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, sent a letter (viewable here) to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, urging him to make the highly-anticipated report public “as soon as possible” to improve the chances that a conditional repeal of the ban on gays in the military – currently attached to a must-pass defense authorization bill – will become law before the clock runs out on the lame-duck session next month.
“Some of our colleagues in the Senate share our view about the importance of passing a defense bill but they are awaiting release of the working group’s report before agreeing to begin debate on the bill,” they wrote. The report, they continue, “will help inform their understanding and alleviate some concerns they may have…. Given the limited amount of time remaining in the 111th Congress, the soonest possible release of the working group’s report could therefore be instrumental in allowing the defense bill to move forward.”
Senators Renew Call To Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Lieberman, Udall, Gillibrand Urge Colleagues To Pass Defense Bill In Lame Duck
WASHINGTON, DC – Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued the following statement today urging the Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year.
“The Senate should act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session. The Senate has passed a defense bill for forty-eight consecutive years. We should not fail to meet that responsibility now, especially while our nation is at war. We must also act to put an end to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy that not only discriminates against but also dishonors the service of gay and lesbian service members.
“The National Defense Authorization Act is essential to the safety and well-being of our service members and their families, as well as for the success of military operations around the world. The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.
“The process established by the defense bill would also allow ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed in an orderly manner, and only after the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have certified to Congress that repeal is ‘consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.’ If Congress does not act to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in an orderly manner that leaves control with our nation’s military leaders, a federal judge may do so unilaterally in a way that is disruptive to our troops and ongoing military efforts. It is important that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ be dealt with this year, and it appears that the only way that can happen is if it is on the defense bill.
“We are pleased that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also called on Congress to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We must act upon our responsibility to our troops and their family members and to the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who serve their nation bravely and honorably by passing the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year.”
This is an interesting line in the letter:
The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.
Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and Democrats were filibustering a defense bill that gay pay rises to the troops. The Republicans would eviscerate us. They’d call us un-American troop haters. But we hear nothing of this sort from the White House or folks on the Hill, other than in this laudable letter from three Senators. Why don’t the rest of the Dems, and the White House, ever fight back?
Think about the cast of assertive characters at the forefront of lobbying on the Hill and working the media on DADT repeal over the last year — a long list of DADT-discharged service members, advocacy orgs Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Servicemembers United among the high profile outlets.
If you’re Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Joe Lieberman and planning a presser for tomorrow, wouldn’t you want representatives from above at your side for credibility?
Apparently not. Look at the invitees for a presser tomorrow (via media advisory from Harry Reid’s office):
Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
Eric Alva, Iraq war veteran, United States Marine Corps
Cesar Vargas, City University of New York (CUNY) [L]aw Student who would be able to join the military under the DREAM Act
I’m sorry, but where’s Aubrey Sarvis of SLDN, for instance, who has actually served in the military and has bucked the WH and the Hill to be very outspoken on DADT repeal? Where are the vets who accompanied Lady Gaga? Hmm. Do you think tender egos related to the latter had anything to do with this?
I’m sure many little Beltway birdies will be dropping messages to me and I will have more details on this travesty tomorrow.
Speaking of Harry Reid’s office, all I could say about the Senate Majority Leader after reading this was “Oh, f*ck no.” (The Politico):
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had an unusual form of praise for New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, this morning at the fundraiser Mayor Bloomberg hosted for him at his townhouse – referring to her as the “hottest” member as she sat just a few feet away, according to three sources.
UPDATE @ 10:39 PM: Shortly after I wrote this post, I was informed by someone involved with this process that the White House is not lobbying fence-sitting senators to reach the magic 60 votes. Here’s what I was told:
As we all know, without a fierce effort and person-to-person advocacy from Obama himself (or at least his senior-most staff), Senators have little reason to change their minds and support debating the Defense Authorization bill. Never did I think I’d see the day when Lady Gaga would do more to advocate for repeal of DADT than our president who campaigned on equality.
It’s stunning really. And, they wonder why the base is depressed.
A coalition of U.S. senators led by Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman today introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 that would repeal the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, that keeps lesbian and gay people from serving openly in the U.S. military.
The new bill would also prohibit discrimination against current and prospective servicemembers on the basis of sexual orientation, and it would “promote the ability of college students who wish to serve our country to join Reserve Officer Training Corps units at universities that currently prevent the establishment of ROTC units on campus.”
In a press statement released jointly by the 13 senators cosponsoring the measure, Lieberman said: “The bottom line is that we have a volunteer military. If Americans want to serve, they ought to have the right to be considered for that service regardless of characteristics such as race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Repealing the current policy will allow more patriotic Americans to defend our national security and live up to our nation’s founding values of freedom and opportunity.”
The other 12 cosponsors, all Democrats, are Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Roland Burris of Illinois, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Barbara Boxer of Callifornia, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Dianne Feinstein of California, and Al Franken of Minnesota.
Levin is also chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Sen. Udall, in explaining his support for repealing DADT, quoted combat veteran and five-term U.S. senator from Arizona Barry Goldwater, who once said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.” And, Udall added, “you certainly don’t have to be straight to recognize who the enemy is.”