The following is a statement from the Center for American Progress Action Fund on the vote that blocked proceeding to debate on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which contained language to repeal "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and an amendment to adopt the DREAM Act:
Today Senate Republicans voted to block proceeding to debate on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. This vote continues their pattern of hiding behind procedural arguments to deny the president, Congress, and America any progress forward on the range of challenges our nation faces.
But their vote today is especially egregious because it blocks debate on a bill that would increase pay for our military servicemembers and provide them with additional protections on the battlefield.
Additionally, the NDAA contains language to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the law that bans openly gay men and women from serving in the U.S. military. This past May the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House of Representatives cast bipartisan votes to repeal the ban. Today’s Senate vote effectively keeps this discriminatory law on our nation’s books, and is a disservice to all men and women in uniform. It is especially irresponsible for Senate Republicans to block action on DADT repeal while our country is at war.
“A majority of senators were ready to vote to end ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” said Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President of External Affairs at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “We are determined to work with Senate leadership in the lame duck session of Congress to make sure our troops are fully funded and equipped, and to once and for all end the military’s discriminatory ban on the service of openly gay men and women.”
The Senate also turned its back on the DREAM Act by refusing to take up and debate the DoD authorization bill. The DREAM Act is a program for young immigrants that is in the Department of Defense’s FY 2010-2012 Strategic Plan to help the military “shape and maintain a mission-ready All Volunteer Force.” The act has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, and would let young people who were brought into the United States before the age of 16 through no choice of their own embark on a strict path toward citizenship.
Among the current and former military leaders supporting the measure are Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.), former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state; David Chue, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness under the Bush administration; and Lt. Col. Margaret Stock in the U.S. Army Reserve (Ret.) and former professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
“The Senate obstructionists’ tactics are shortsighted and not in the best interest of our national security or our economy,” said Angela M. Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at CAP Action. “We urge the Senate to create another opportunity for a debate on the policy merits of the DREAM Act and not leave its fate in the hands of political naysayers,” Kelley added.