In an email to supporters, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced his intention to take up the National Defense Authorization Act — which contains language aimed at repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — next week. Megan Jones with his campaign committee wrote, in part:
This afternoon, he informed Republicans that he intends to bring the Defense Authorization Bill–including “repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy–to the Senate Floor next week.
This would overturn the decade-old policy that bars openly gay, lesbian or bisexual Americans from serving in our armed forces, and is an important step towards equal treatment of all Americans.
Senator Reid believes that Americans should not be denied the opportunity to serve their country just because of their sexual orientation.
In a statement provided to Metro Weekly, Aubrey Sarvis, the executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said:
“We applaud the Senate Majority Leader’s courage and his statement tonight to bring the DOD bill to the floor. Now, we must deliver. Repeal proponents may well need 60 votes in the Senate to get to this important debate in September. We are now in the final stretch and we must prevail.”
The call refers to the likelihood that Republicans — most notably Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — could push to refuse to allow the Senate to proceed in its consideration of the bill. Such refusal would require 60 votes in favor of proceeding on debate of the NDAA.
Sarvis went on:
“Repeal supporters should not stop calling their senators. Sen. John McCain has been a strong and vocal opponent from the start and it is critical that we beat back any filibuster threat, defeat attempts to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments.”
Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, was more confident. In a statement, he said:
“We are both pleased and relieved that Senator Reid has decided to schedule the defense authorization bill for floor time next week. We are fairly confident that we will have the 60 votes to break a filibuster of this bill. It would be shameful for lawmakers to vote to hold up an important and expansive piece of legislation like the defense authorization bill simply because of their opposition to one or two provisions within it.”