The Senate could not reach the 60-vote threshold to start debate on a defense spending bill Tuesday, effectively blocking an attached repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” ban on gay people serving openly.
Although the defense bill would spend $726 billion to fund the Pentagon, it also has an amendment to repeal the ban after a military study is released regarding what impact lifting the ban would have. President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, support the repeal. You can read more NewsHour coverage on the military leaders’ positions on the ban here.
The House of Representatives has already voted to end the ban.
The bill also includes an amendment called the Dream Act, which provides a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.
The 56-43 vote was mostly along party lines. Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryror of Arkansas voted with 40 Republicans to block debate on the bill. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowksi did not vote, and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada voted against debate for procedural reasons. No Republicans voted to start debate.
The NewsHour reported in Tuesday’s Morning Line that Reid was targeting Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snow and Susan Collins, but his efforts appear to have been unsuccessful.
Pop star Lady Gaga traveled to Maine for a speech Monday to pressure the senators not to filibuster the spending bill and has engaged in an internet campaign urging the senate to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.