Don’t ask, don’t tell, DREAM Act fall victim to filibuster

An effort to get a vote on legislation repealing the don’t ask, don’t tell policy that is used to keep gays and lesbians from serving in the United States military and a vote on a bill that would open educational opportunities and a path to citizenship for undocumented Americans who are long-time U.S. residents failed today in the United States Senate.

A Republican-led filibuster of the measures, attached to the annual Defense Authorization Bill, blocked consideration of the defense bill and the don’t ask, don’t tell and DREAM Act bills.

Virginia Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner voted with Democrats on a motion to bring the bills to a vote. The vote fell four votes short of the 60 needed to suspend debate.

Two Democrats, Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, voted with Republicans to uphold the filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted no as a procedural tactic; under Senate rules, by voting with the majority he can revive the bill at a later date if he wants, and early indications after the vote are that the bills will be revived for consideration after the November congressional elections.

“Once again, politicians are playing politics with people’s lives. Filibustering the defense authorization bill to block action on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal and the DREAM Act — two measures that do justice to the fundamental principle of fairness — is a disappointment and disservice to our country,” said Rea Carey, the executive director of the Washington, D.C.,-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan talked with reporters before the vote to express the support of the Obama administration for the DREAM Act.

“I believe it’s not only the right thing to do, for the students, who want for themselves the same thing that we want for our children, and it’s also the right thing to do for our country. In this economy, we need everyone trained and prepared for the jobs of the future,” Duncan said.

“The DREAM Act means that students who have spent most of their lives here in America can get a college education. It would put students who have already been educated in our schools on a path to citizenship. It would empower states to apply in-state tution rates to undocumented students. Above all, it would stop punishing innocent young people for the accidental circumstance of their birth,” Duncan said.
 
 

Story by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.


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