Senate Debates DREAM Act, Ending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”


    I’ve been watching some of the Senate debate this morning on the DREAM Act (HR 5281) and on ending “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” So far, a clear pattern is emerging: Democrats almost unanimously are speaking out against discrimination, bigotry and intolerance; Republicans almost unanimously are either in favor of discrimination, or certainly not for ending it anytime soon. John McCain is typical of this attitude, claiming that ending the discriminatory, flawed, broken, counterproductive policy known as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” would somehow harm unit cohesion and our military’s war-fighting ability. In addition, McCain claims that we shouldn’t change this policy during wartime, conveniently ignoring the fact that we are likely to be at war against “terrorism” indefinitely, most likely for decades to come. Which, of course, means that we would never repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, at least for many years to come. See how that works?

    As for the DREAM Act, there are so many lies being spread by its opponents – mostly Republicans – that it’s hard to know where to start. Fortunately, the Center for American Progress has done our work for us, demolishing the myths (aka, “lies”) put out by Republicans on this bill. In addition, I’d just point out that it’s incredibly foolish, politically speaking, for Republicans to alienate the fastest-growing voting bloc in America – Latinos.  If the former “Party of Lincoln” really wants to turn itself into the party of intolerance, that’s their choice, but it’s an incredibly bad one.

    In the end, both of these pieces of legislation are, in their own way, about the American dream – to go to college, to serve in the military, to work hard and make a great life in America, to pursue happiness, to be true to one’s core nature. The question today is simple: who is for the American Dream, and who is against it? Stay tuned for the voting, and don’t forget how each member answered that simple but crucial question.

    UPDATE: Jim Webb and Mark Warner both voted “aye” on the DREAM Act, as did the vast majority of Democrats (Max Baucus, Kay Hagan, Jon Tester, Mark Pryor, and Ben Nelson voted no; we will not forget this!). However, with the vast majority of Republicans voting no (exceptions: Richard Lugar, Lisa Murkowski, Robert Bennett), the bill dies (55-41 to invoke cloture). A pathetic day for our country, and particularly for the Republican Party. Oh, and so much for Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown being “moderates.”

    UPDATE #2: Now, on to the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” cloture vote. Warner and Webb both voted “aye” – I’m proud of our two U.S. Senators today, thank you!  The vote is 63-33, and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will shortly be toast!

    UPDATE #3: In sum, we got one piece of terrible news today (failed cloture vote on the DREAM Act), one piece of great news (sayonara DADT!). With a few exceptions, Republicans have shown themselves to be the party of bigotry and intolerance. Also, with a few exceptions, Democrats have shown themselves to be the opposite. Do not forget this day come 2012!

    • Dan Sullivan

      Do the Republicans have their rationale for the inevitable “troubles” in Afghanistan? Is the anti-immigrant movement gaining momentum? I think the fear, hate, and loathing machine has just begun its run.

    • blue bronc

      One of the stranger and sadder scenes from the Senate was the babbling that came from Sen. McCain at the end of discussion. It isn’t worth typing as it makes no sense.

      However, it is just another statement from a man who is now just an embittered, muddled and “get off my lawn” old man.  I never liked him, even with the media presenting him as a “moderate Republican”.  He was never moderate. He was always far right, but like lessor Blue Dogs he would vote against party on some issues.  Nice way to set up a reputation as a “maverick”. His military career was a disaster, including getting his ass shot out of the sky.  

      However seeing him now is worse than seeing the old bigots of the Senate in their end years, they at least were given a mic and left to mumble whatever they wanted with a wink from the media that they are just trying to set the record of being the first 100 year old Senator still showing up to vote.  The final weeks of Byrd, although sad, at least he kept his conversion to Dem steady. And, he was the best damned parliamentarian the Senate ever had.

      But McCain swirling around the drain is sad and bad. Bad because a lot of people still think he is able to make decisions and provide thought to the debate. No more. It is like going to the nursing home and seeing someone who no longer is capable talking away to a bedpost. Very sad and heartrending.  

      Hopefully he will decide to retire, or someone will take his angry butt out to the desert and make him understand he needs to retire.  Then bring on the next far right Republican from AZ.  He or most unlikly, she, will at least not be a sad sight to see.

    • Lindsey Graham – Utterly pathetic, most likely a closet case.

      John McCain – Ugly, nasty, cranky old man.

      Saxby Chambliss – THE LAST person in the world who should be talking about military issues, given his vicious attacks on war hero Max Cleland, and his own multiple deferments that kept him safely out of Vietnam.

      James Inhofe – Pleads, don’t do this “one day before my 51st wedding anniversary.” WTF is THAT supposed to mean? The guy’s a complete loon…and a bigot.

    • In an incredibly disappointing vote today, a minority of Senators prevented the Senate from doing what most Americans understand is best for the country. As I said last week, when the House passed the DREAM Act, it is not only the right thing to do for talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own, it is the right thing for the United States of America. Our nation is enriched by their talents and would benefit from the success of their efforts. The DREAM Act is important to our economic competitiveness, military readiness, and law enforcement efforts. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation.

      It is disappointing that common sense did not prevail today.  But my administration will not give up on the DREAM Act, or on the important business of fixing our broken immigration system.   The American people deserve a serious debate on immigration, and it’s time to take the polarizing rhetoric off our national stage.

      I thank Senators Durbin, Reid, and Menendez for their tireless efforts. Moving forward, my administration will continue to do everything we can to fix our nation’s broken immigration system so that we can provide lasting and dedicated resources for our border security while at the same time restoring responsibility and accountability to the system at every level.

    • Today, the Senate has taken an historic step toward ending a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend.  By ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love.

      As Commander-in-Chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known.  And I join the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the overwhelming majority of service members asked by the Pentagon, in knowing that we can responsibly transition to a new policy while ensuring our military strength and readiness.

      I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Senators Lieberman and Collins and the countless others who have worked so hard to get this done.  It is time to close this chapter in our history.  It is time to recognize that sacrifice, valor and integrity are no more defined by sexual orientation than they are by race or gender, religion or creed.  It is time to allow gay and lesbian Americans to serve their country openly.  I urge the Senate to send this bill to my desk so that I can sign it into law.

    • blue bronc

      Well, at last the Senate did something. Now we have to hope Obama will not veto it.

      One down, now the new START needs to be passed.  Maybe there is hope if Reid is allowing one of the anti-defense R’s an amendment tomorrow.