Texas senators go quiet on DADT repeal

Dallas Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, left, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Dave Guy-Gainer, a local board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, reported Monday night:

“Well I tried again to meet with Senator Hutchison or her staff. The Dallas number rang busy all day Friday. So, I tried their fax and it went thru. I proposed an establish communications’ meeting with myself and four other, major Dallas leaders. It’s Monday nite and I didn’t hear squat back. Guess she isn’t interested in representing us at all.”

Dallas Voice also contacted the offices of both Hutchison and Sen. John Cornyn on Monday to find out where they stand on the standalone measure to repeal DADT. But as of this morning, we had received no response — not even from Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin, who normally at least acknowledges our existence. After all, dealing with the media is part of McLaughlin’s taxpayer-funded job.

We also never heard back from McLaughlin about why Cornyn missed last week’s failed cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Act, to which DADT repeal was attached. (Hutchison voted against closure, joining the Republican filibuster that blocked the bill.)

This morning we contacted Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, to find out whether he’d had any contact with the two senators’ offices about DADT repeal.

Schlein said he has not but is pretty sure they will vote against it.

“I am going to say that I wouldn’t suspect that they would support it, just because that’s been their history,” Schlein said. “I really don’t know, but it won’t surprise me if they both vote against it. You’ve got to remember that part of the senators’ job is to vote their constituency. I know the polls show the majority of the nation supports repeal, but I’m sure that in Texas, the numbers are a little bit different.”

Schlein added that their votes aren’t really that important, because there’s enough Republican support to pass DADT repeal in the Senate. He again blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, for failing to pass DADT repeal sooner.

“The more interesting question is, will Reid put the bill on the floor without sabotaging it?” Schlein said. “If the process is right, if Reid doesn’t play any more games and he doesn’t attach any unrelated amendments like the DREAM Act, I think it will pass.”

If you’d like to try to contact the senators yourself, Hutchison is at 202-224-5922 and Cornyn is at 202-224-2934.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Senate blocks DADT repeal, but Collins, Lieberman to introduce stand-alone bill

CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS AND VIDEO FROM THURSDAY NIGHT’S DADT RALLY ON CEDAR SPRINGS

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Online Editor

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:

YEAs —57

Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Coons (D-DE)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Hagan (D-NC)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

NAYs —40

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brown (R-MA)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kirk (R-IL)
Kyl (R-AZ)
LeMieux (R-FL)
Lugar (R-IN)
Manchin (D-WV)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)

Not Voting – 3

Brownback (R-KS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Lincoln (D-AR)

—  John Wright

GOP Senators Promise Capitol Hill Constipation On DADT Unless Democrats Give ‘Em Their Tax Cuts

You know those bratty kids at your cousin's wedding whose parents never seem to be around to STFU and learn some manners? That's how the Republican senators are acting today, signing a letter threatening to immediately end yesterday's bipartisanship hoax and shut down the chamber unless Democrats give in on Bush-era tax cuts. Which means they won't do anything about Don't Ask Don't Tell as part of the Pentagon spending bill. Are the Dems still unable to spin this as a Republican attempt to hurt our troops? C'mon, let's play the spin game with 'em!


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—  admin

McConnell, GOP Senators Hold DADT Repeal, Dem Initiatives Ransom in Letter to Harry Reid

All 42 GOP Senators have signed a letter from Mitch McConnellto House Majority Leader Harry Reid threatening to block all initiatives, including the Defense Authorization Act with DADT attached, until Republicans get their way on Bush tax cuts.

McconnellExcerpt from letter from GOP Senators to Harry Reid, via The Plum Line:

Dear Leader Reid,

The nation's unemployment level, stuck near 10 percent, is unacceptable to Americans. Senate Republicans have been urging Congress to make private-sector job creation a priority all year. President Obama in his first speech after the November election said "we owe" it to the American people to "focus on those issues that affect their jobs." He went on to say that Americans "want jobs to come back faster." Our constituents have repeatedly asked us to focus on creating an environment for private-sector job growth; it is time that our constituents' priorities become the Senate's priorities.

For that reason, we write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers. With little time left in this Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on these critical priorities. While there are other items that might ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the government and preventing a job-killing tax hike.

****

We look forward to continuing to work with you in a constructive manner to keep the government operating and provide the nation's small businesses with economic certainty that the job-killing tax hike will be prevented.

However, Greg Sargent says that there's a good possibility that certain GOP Senators would abandon McConnell on this:

"Senator Susan Collins confirms to me that she could still vote for cloture for the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal of DADT if ample time is alloted for floor debate and amendments…This wouldn't be the first time a tactic like this from McConnell has failed to maintain GOP unity, despite his threats to the contrary. On Wall Street reform, Dems were able to break the GOP filibuster despite McConnell's bluff…Someone should ask senators Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe, and John Ensign whether they are willing to rule out a vote for DADT repeal if the Bush tax cut standoff isn't yet resolved. My bet is their answers might be surprising."


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Take Action: Tell the President that he needs to literally call Senators about DADT

It’s been a busy day. The President hosted at meeting with the leaders of Congress to talk about priorities for the lame duck session. Doesn’t sound like they gave much thought to the Defense bill, which includes the DADT language. Also, today, as you know, the Pentagon released its long awaited report on DADT.

We need the direct involvement of the President if we’re going to pass the DADT language this year, as promised. A short time ago, the White House issued a statement from the President on the DADT report, which included this line:

Today I call on the Senate to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year and ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally.

We need more than a statement on paper from the President. Here’s an idea: The President could start calling Senators to make sure he can sign the law this year. And, how about standing in front of t.v. cameras and using the bully pulpit to call for repeal. Put some skin in the game, Mr. President. You promised.

We sent out the following appeal to our AMERICAblog list. We’re still asking the President to start calling Senators directly. That will have more impact than a White House statement:

BREAKING NEWS: The Pentagon’s study on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was just released, and it is better than our wildest dreams. The study concluded that repeal would have a “low risk” to the military’s mission capability.

With congressional debate beginning as early as Monday, the calendar is our biggest obstacle — there is no time to lose. Defense Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen have already said they’ll be talking to the Senate about the report. The grassroots will be doing our part. But the White House is still on record saying the President’s made no calls to Congress on this issue!

Join thousands in telling President Obama to start calling senators in support of repealing DADT now. Click here.

Add your name to our open letter, and we’ll personally deliver it to the White House for you. Then share this email with others.

More results from the study:

* 70% of servicemembers believe repeal would have little or no effect on their units
* 92% of respondents had a positive or neutral experience with a gay servicemember
* 74% of military spouses are not concerned about repeal
* Secretary of Defense Gates strongly urges that the Senate repeal DADT based on the findings of this report

We can not afford for the President to be MIA on this issue yet again. We need his fierce advocacy right now.

Click here to join over 2,500 people in telling President Obama to put some skin in the game and call Senators in support of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — now.

The stakes are high. Thanks for joining us in this fight.

Obama can call on the Senate to act — and call Senators to make sure they do.

More and more people are signing the letter. We’ve passed our initial goal of 2,500 signatures and have doubled it to 5,000. The President just told us how important the Senate is. Let’s make sure he’s doing his part.

And, everyone should call their own Senators today or tomorrow. The switchboard at the Capitol is: 202-224-3121.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Pro-repeal Senators say they’ve got 60 votes for DADT, including several GOPers

The lame duck session represents so many hurdles, so little time, but there is this.

Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, said Thursday that he and other opponents of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay service members had secured the votes to authorize its repeal — provided that Senate leaders allow a free-flowing debate on the wider military policy bill that includes the repeal.

At the press conference, Lieberman mentioned GOP Senators Collins and Lugar are prepared to vote for the Defense bill. And I got a big chuckle out of this.

“The movement to end the injustice of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is alive and well and we are going to keep fighting — in the spirit of the American military — until we get the job done,” he said. “And we will get the job done.”

Mr. Lieberman conceded, however, that he had made no progress in persuading Mr. McCain, a close friend of his, to withdraw his opposition.

That is just too cute by half. I’d love to be a fly on the wall watching “Joementum” (snark) try to bargain with his pal “Walnuts” (no snark) to get him to come over to the side of equality.

UPDATE from Joe: Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade reports that Nevada activists have been told Senator John Ensign wants DADT repealed and is prepared to vote for cloture on the Defense bill after the Pentagon’s study is released. Via Igor Volsky, according to an Alaska reporter, that state’s newly reelected Senator, Lisa Murkowski “said that she would ‘not vote against a bill that had that repeal in it.’” Murkowski has been back and forth on this issue over the past couple days. So, this thing is fluid. It’s all about timing and process now.

The key thing to remember is this paragraph from the NY Times article, to which Tim linked:

Leaders of the new House Republican majority have indicated that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is not a priority for them, making it unlikely they would approve the bill again. That means if the repeal language is not approved by the end of this year, it will be effectively dead.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

What exactly does ‘fair and open amendment process’ actually mean to Senators Collins and Lugar?

We keep hearing that some GOP Senators will support bringing the Defense Authorization bill to the floor. Via Kerry Eleveld’s report on the Senate Press conference yesterday:

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,” Lieberman told reporters at a press conference, naming GOP senators Susan Collins and Richard Lugar as yes votes. “Time is an inexcusable reason not to get this done.”

Here’s my question: What exactly does “fair and open amendment process” mean to Senators Collins and Lugar? Are they going to tell us in advance — or will they keep moving the goal line (think Grassley and Snowe during the health care debate.) And, what happens when Mitch McConnell brings down the hammer on them? Let’s be clear: The Senate Republican leaders have already made their decision — they will filibuster the Defense bill over DADT. Will Collins, Lugar and the other allegedly pro-repeal GOPers cave, like they usually do, but offer some lame-ass procedural excuse?

One has to wonder if Lugar, Collins and other GOP Senators want to face the wrath of John McCain. He’s known for his extremely volatile temper and he’s become obsessed with blocking the DADT language from passing. Look at how quickly he got his wife to flip-flop on DADT after she told the world it’s one of the reasons gay kids are killing themselves.

We need a transparent process here. Obviously, this blog has been unabashed about holding Democrats accountable — and we will continue to do that. But, we need to know the specifics of what Collins and Lugar want the process to look like. Then, we can gauge if they’re playing fair, too.

And, I included this paragraph from the NY Times in the post below, but it bears repeating:

Leaders of the new House Republican majority have indicated that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is not a priority for them, making it unlikely they would approve the bill again. That means if the repeal language is not approved by the end of this year, it will be effectively dead.

That’s right. And, it will be dead for a long time. This is our best shot. Those are the stakes. That is what Obama, Reid, Collins, Lieberman, Lugar and the rest need to remember.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Call Your Senators to Urge DADT Action

CALL YOUR SENATORS NOW
Dial (202) 224-3121
Tell them to do everything they can to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year.

The time is now.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may be in its final moments. Years of work could boil down to what happens in the coming weeks. The Senate’s “lame duck” session began this week – our last, best hope to end the discrimination this year.

We here at HRC are putting all of our efforts into what could be the final push for repeal; This week we placed ads in major newspapers in key states asking everyone to call their senator and sound off on passing repeal this year; Yesterday we sent an action alert to our membership letting them know how important it is to contact senators this week, and organizers are deployed across the country rallying support to let the Senate know that the Americans want the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law repealed.

We can’t do it by ourselves. We need every one of you to pick up the phone and call your senators’ offices today. Call your senators and let them know to pass the National Defense Authorization Act  with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” attached. In addition to repeal, this bill contains funding for equipment that our troops need and benefits that service members and veterans deserve.

Senators need to be pushed by their constituents now, because there is little time to be wasted. With just a few weeks left on Congress’ calendar, every seconds that we delay is a moment lost. Dial (202) 224-3121 to call the congressional switch board. Tell them where you are from and ask them to connect you to the office of your senator.

You shouldn’t stop there. Tell your parents, your siblings, your friends and your coworkers; Let Facebook know, let Twitter know. We need all hands on deck. Every call that you make could push us closer to making repeal a reality.

Obstructionists like Senator John McCain want to do everything they can to run out the clock until the next Congress, when even fewer pro-equality lawmakers are around to cast their vote. We have got to do everything that we can to make sure that he is not successful.

Together we push senators to strengthen our military, while honoring the service and sacrifice of all of our service members. Call now.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Friday night political video: The New Freshman Class of Extremist Senators

People for the American Way gives us a primer on the nutbags, yahoos and fringe tools who have some how convinced enough voters that they deserve to have the power to pass legislation affecting millions. Meet The New Freshman Class of Extremist Senators. Learn more about them in the Rogue’s Gallery.

In PFAW’s latest video after the 2010 elections, we introduce the new class of extremist Senators that will arrive in Washington in January.


Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Closeted gay Marine from North Texas reacts to DADT vote: ‘I was absolutely outraged. I still am’

A while back we interviewed a gay Marine from North Texas who is a member of OutServe, the underground network of actively serving LGBT troops. We sent the Marine a message Tuesday afternoon inquiring about his reaction to the Senate vote that halted the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Here’s his response:

“When I heard the news, I was absolutely outraged. I still am,” he said. “This was a huge letdown, and has made me just about completely lose faith in our government. But we as OutServe are standing by our word, we are not going to give up the fight. We will be here fighting until every servicemember has equal rights. We aren’t going anywhere. This is a setback, but it’s not the end of the fight. Now I would urge President Obama to stand up and do what is right: Issue an executive order to stop discharges until the final review is over in December. I would also encourage the American public to still stay on their congressmen and senators, call them and tell them to repeal this unjust policy. This is human lives that this policy is affecting.”

—  John Wright