All 42 Senate Republicans have
threatened to block repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the
17-year-old law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving
openly, unless Democrats agree to move on tax issues, the AP
In a letter addressed to Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid, Republicans vowed to block any measure
until the chamber has “acted to fund the government and we have
prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all taxpayers.”
“With little time left in this
Congressional session, legislative scheduling should be focused on
these critical priorities. While there are other items that might
ultimately be worthy of the Senate's attention, we cannot agree to
prioritize any matters above the critical issues of funding the
government and preventing a job-killing tax hike,” the GOP senators
wrote, referring to the imminent end of the Bush-era tax cuts.
The threat, if carried out, means the
end of the road for repeal of the law that has ended the military
careers of over 13,000 service members for the near term.
Reid blasted the GOP caucus for backing
an “obstruct and delay” strategy.
“Republicans have simply put in
writing the political strategy they have pursued over the last two
years: obstruct and delay critical help for struggling Americans, and
then blame others for the problems they refuse to solve,” Reid said
in a statement on Wednesday. “This strategy is very cynical but
very obvious and transparent.”
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of
the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the largest group
lobbying for repeal of the Clinton-era law, also chided Republicans.
“The Republican caucus that has
expressed strong support for a vote on extending the Bush-era tax
cuts should be as equally unified in support of a vote in the
lame-duck session on the nation's defense bill, the very bill which
provides for our security and the well being of service members who
defend us every day,” Sarvis said in a statement.
Ultimatum or not, a
Senate panel is expected on Thursday to begin two days' worth of
testimony on a Pentagon report on how to repeal the law.