GOP Poised To Filibuster Defense Bill That Includes Repeal Of DADT

uscapitol 062509 21Sep10

With the Senate scheduled to hold a key procedural vote on the annual defense authorization bill later on Tuesday, Senate Republicans seem poised to prevent the bill from the coming to the floor in protest of their inability to add amendments to the bill.

In addition to a 1.4 percent pay increase for troops and $725 billion in funding for the Pentagon, the bill also includes a provision that would repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces.

However, the forty-one Republicans in the Senate have indicated that they will vote against the procedural motion, preventing Democrats from achieving the 60 votes needed to move forward with the bill.

Even Republicans that support the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," such as Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, have indicated that they will vote against the motion.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Collins said she supports the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" but respects the views of those that disagree.

"I will defend the right of my colleagues to offer amendments on this issue, and other issues that are being brought up in connection with the defense authorization bill -- and there are many controversial issues in this bill," Collins said. "They deserve to have a civil, fair and open debate on the Senate floor."

She added, "And that is why I am so disappointed that rather than allowing full and open debate and the opportunity for amendments from both sides of the aisle, the Majority Leader apparently intends to shut down the debate and exclude Republicans from offering a number of amendments."

In addition to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," some Republicans are also concerned about a provision in the bill that would allow for servicewomen and military dependents to obtain abortion services at military hospitals.

Republicans have also expressed concerns about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's, D-Nev., plan to tack a measure on to the bill that would create a path to citizenship for certain young people that are in the country illegally.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., accused Democrats of not focusing on defense and instead putting on a "political show" for special interest groups ahead of the election.

"Democrats have called up this bill not to have a vote on it or to consider amendments to help our troops in the field, but to put on a show to use it as an opportunity to cast votes for things Americans either don't want or aren't interested in seeing attached to a bill that's supposed to be about defense," McConnell said.

The Senate is expected to vote on the motion to move forward with the bill at about 2:30 pm ET.

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