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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Live Coverage: Senate Vote on DADT

Watch history being made while you eat breakfast, or nurse that hangover:

Senate Works into the Weekend on Last-Minute Legislation C-SPAN

You can read the 6-page PDF text of H.B. 2965 ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010") here. Look up more info about the bill at Thomas.loc.gov (Library of Congress).

Live blog from your Head Trucker - times are EST:

12:31 - The final vote on DADT repeal will be at 3 p.m. today, Washington time. Between now and then, the floor is open to senators who want to speak on that or on the START treaty, or who knows what. I'm listening to them drone on - even the senators who get up to speak in favor of repeal seem to me to be wasting their breath, there's no point in bring up more examples and indignant reactions pro or con now: it all comes down to the yeas and nays. I'll report back later on how it all turns out at 3 o'clock.

12:20 - Whups, not over yet. Reid is asking for a vote today at 3 p.m., apparently. McCain is bickering over debate time and technicalities.

12:12 - I guess that's all for today on DADT. But what a relief. The Washington Post says:
Senators voted 63 to 33 go proceed to debate on the bill. Fifty-seven members of the Senate Democratic caucus and six Republicans -- Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio) -- voted yes. Four senators -- Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) -- did not vote.  [note from Russ:  Minich voted against repeal last week, but stayed home today.]

A final vote on the bill is expected Sunday; a simple majority is required for final passage.
New York Times:
“I don’t care who you love,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said as debate opened. “If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn’t have to hide who you are.”

Mr. Wyden showed up for the Senate vote despite saying on Friday that he would be unable to do so because he would be undergoing final tests before his scheduled surgery on Monday for prostate cancer.
12:01 - The first vote, for a North Carolina judge, sailed through with a voice vote only. But now the second vote is being done by roll call, so it's another dragged-out process. BTW, McCain keeps talking about maimed soldiers but conveniently overlooks gay vets like Eric Alva, first Marine wounded in Iraq, who lost a leg and was given a medical discharge.

11:49 - Cloture on DADT repeal passes, 63-33. Hooray! So there can be no filibuster against it. Now they can move on to an actual vote on the bill itself. But inexplicably, they are now going to vote on a couple of judicial nominations - WTF??

11:46 - Clerk just read out, rather rapidly, a tally of yeas and nays by name, and I think I counted 60+ in favor - but some senators are still ambling up to the clerk's desk to vote, as the mood strikes them it seems.

11:35 - McCain, invoking the image of "Marines in Bethesda with no legs" says this is a sad day, putting lives at risk by letting all the queers ruin the military. Voting begins again, but this time the clerk is apparently calling the roll to start with - but again, some senators are up out of their seats, lounging around and chatting as before, so I don't know exactly how the vote works here. But crossing all my fingers and toes. Some senators are replying to the roll call from their seats, but I can't hear them via TV, so can't tell how it's going.

11:34 - Lieberman asks his colleagues to vote for fairness and support repeal of DADT.

11:31 - Cloture on the DREAM Act fails, 55-41, not having gotten 60 votes. What does this portend for DADT repeal?

11:30 - The cloture vote to limit debate on the DREAM Act (H.R. 5281) is underway. The voting procedure in the Senate is not at all like in the movies. There is no drama, no sense of moment. Instead of a momentous roll call, with each senator declaiming his aye or nay from his desk, everyone is up out of their seats, ambling around the chamber, chitchatting in small groups as you would at a church social. When somebody gets damn good and ready to vote, he or she sidles up to the clerk's desk and lets her know how to mark their vote. This has gone on for 25 minutes.

11:05 - Reid remembers a young woman who spoke to him and said, "My parents aren't citizens, so I can't go to college; what am I supposed to do with my life?" That and other such stories have haunted him, which is why the DREAM Act must be passed.

11:01 - Reid quotes Barry Goldwater: "You don't have to be straight to shoot straight." SNAP!

10:59 - Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Majority Leader, says McConnell's fake concern about the democratic process "brings a big yawn to the American people." Snap, snap, SNAP! "To suggest there haven't been enough hearings on this is simply nonsensical."

10:56 - Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Minority Leader, says not allowing amendments on these two bills is denying Americans the democratic process, yada yada yada.

10:53 - Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Majority Whip, speaks in favor of the DREAM Act, a "monumental" issue of fairness he has been working on for ten years. Showing pictures of young immigrants who will benefit from the DREAM Act. Says "the cause of justice is worth the politcal risk" of voting for this bill." All of which is well and good, but I wish they would just stick to DADT, which I'm focused on, and not mix the two topics up together; but maybe that's all to the good.

10:42 - McCain says "I'm aware this bill will probably pass today" - and liberals will rejoice tomorrow but "we are doing great damage" and probably "harm the battle effectiveness so vital to the survival of our young men and women." Yields the balance of his time.

10:36 - Here we go. Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., gets 10 minutes to rant. Starts by asking if it's true that no amendments can be offered on either bill before the Senate; the chair says that's true. Then he starts in on how the Senate is defying the will of the American people as expressed in the recent election. And the will of the military leaders and the troops themselves, which will "cost Marines' lives" - and yada, yada, yada. "It isn't broke, don't fix it."

10:35 - Sen. Charles Shumer, D-N.Y., quotes de Tocqueville: "What makes America different from all other nations is that equality always prevails."

10:33 - Sen. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., in a short but impassioned speech says both DADT repeal and the DREAM Act are about letting people who want to be part of the American fabric, do so.

10:28 - Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Minority Whip, is maundering on with ten reasons why the Senate should not pass the DREAM act and let the barbarian hordes overwhelm our borders.

10:22 - Sen. Feinstein, D-Calif., says the criteria for military service should be "courage, competence, and a willingness to serve." Also speaks in favor of the DREAM Act.

10:15 - Sen. Lieberman, I-Conn., in a somewhat rambling response says the bottom line is, repeal will make our best-in-the-world military even better.

10:04 - Sen. Saxby, D-Ga., says now is not the time to repeal the law, in the middle of a war. If we do, "250,000 soldiers and Marines will leave the service in short order" because they can't bear to fight alongside all them nasty queerz.

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