Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has
scheduled the first vote on repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,”
the law that bans gay troops from serving openly, for Tuesday.
Republicans, led by Arizona Senator
John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services
Committee, have threatened to filibuster the National Defense
Authorization Act, which includes the repeal language.
Repeal advocates are focusing on seven
senators who remain uncommitted on breaking the filibuster, including
two Democrats, Jim Webb of Virginia and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and
five Republicans, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Richard
Lugar of Indiana, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and George Voinovich of
On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden
said he believes Democrats are 5 votes shy of the 60 needed to break
The next day, McCain told the
Washington Times that he would not support passage of the
defense authorization bill because it was an attempt to push the
“social agenda of the liberal left.”
McCain said he also objected to the
bill's inclusion of the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow
undocumented youth with a high school diploma and a clean criminal
record a path to U.S. citizenship if they committed to two years in
the military or college.
The Arizona senator said immigration
reform was not relevant to the military budget, adding that its
inclusion was “a transparent attempt [by Reid] to win an election.”
Tuesday's vote is the first of several
needed to approve the measure. House members, who voted in favor of
a similar measure in May, will also need to reconcile their
legislation with the Senate's.
Even if approved, the policy's end
would not come until after the president and Pentagon officials agree
on how best to implement repeal, and, at a minimum, after the December
release of a Defense Department review on the subject.
Republicans have objected to repeal of
the law before the study's completion.