Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today filed for cloture on the motion to proceed to debate the National Defense Authorization Act, which contains the amendment aimed at repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, setting up a floor vote on the motion for Tuesday.
Reid’s deputy communications director, Regan Lachapelle, told Metro Weekly in an email at 1:35 p.m., “Senator Reid did file cloture about 20 min[ute]s ago on the motion to proceed to the defense authorization bill.” Because the Republican leadership refused unanimous consent to proceed on the bill, the threat of a filibuster means that cloture — which requires 60 votes and ends any filibuster — is required to debate the bill.
She continued, “We will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the bill next Tuesday at 2:15 p.m.”
If 60 votes are obtained in Tuesday’s vote, then debate on the NDAA will begin. This debate could include a motion to strike the DADT repeal provision or an amendment to change the specifics of the provision.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, urged that members of the group continue to call their senators to push for repeal. In a statement prior to the cloture filing, he said, “Our opponents will filibuster and we need to help Majority Leader Harry Reid and Chairman Carl Levin [(D-Mich.)] get the 60 votes they need.
“Sen. John McCain [(R-Ariz.)] 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.”
Earlier today, nine members of Get Equal and the Arizona group H.E.R.O. interrupted an unrelated Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to protest the opposition of McCain to the repeal of DADT, specifically his efforts to thwart the bill, according to a news release about the action.
In the release, Robin McGehee, co-founder and director of Get Equal, said, “Senator John McCain is more interested in placating the McCain-Palin wing of the Republican party than he is in supporting our men and women in uniform. My advice to Senator McCain is that he spend a little more time learning about equality from his wife and daughter and a little less time listening to the extreme wing of his party.”
Meanwhile, Servicemembers United also was holding its fall lobby day — titled “The Final Assault” — on Capitol Hill today, with executive director Alex Nicholson saying in a statement, “It’s all hands on deck for us right now, and these citizen lobbyists are certainly doing their part in this fight.”
NDAA debate also is expected to include consideration of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act — or DREAM Act — a bill that is a portion of immigration reform efforts and would provide the ability for certain people to receive permanent residency status under certain conditions, included completion of school or military service.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spoke about the DREAM Act on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday afternoon, noting that Republican support will be needed for the Act to be added to the bill. He said, “I don’t know how we, how my colleagues can continue to face these young people without at least trying.”