Democrats lose cloture vote on Defense policy bill

Senate Democrats failed Tuesday to get the 60 votes needed to proceed to the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill, effectively shelving until after the midterm elections debate on hot-button political issues such as immigration and the repeal of the 1993 law banning gays from serving openly in the military.

The Senate voted 56-43 on a cloture motion offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Democrats needed support from their entire caucus and at least one Republican to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the defense bill.

But Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who was considered by Democrats as their best bet for a "yes" vote, said this morning she feared Senate leaders would not allow adequate time for a wide range of amendments to be debated on the bill.

Before the vote, Collins said she would cast her "no" vote to protect minority rights, despite her support for the provisions in the bill.

Republicans have said they are concerned that debate on the bill would be limited to three amendments: the DREAM Act, a measure that would create a path to citizenship for young adult illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as minors; language ending the Senate's practice of secret holds; and a GOP amendment striking language in the bill that would repeal the 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays.

Under the repeal provision in the bill, the ban on avowed homosexuals would not be lifted until after the Pentagon completes its review of the likely impact and certifies that it would not hurt morale or unit cohesion.

But Democrats have countered that more amendments could be offered after those three are considered.

"I don't think Reid has ruled that out," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said earlier Tuesday. Beyond the first three amendments, Reid "would be open to negotiation for unanimous consent requests" for other amendments, Durbin added.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., argued that Democrats can't work out time agreements on amendments before the bill comes to the floor because they don't know how many amendments will be offered. So far, Levin estimated there were only eight amendments for the bill, which usually attracts hundreds.

"I don't know a practical way to work out an agreement" before debate on the bill begins, he said.

Before the cloture vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sought unanimous consent for a process in which the Senate would take up 20 amendments before considering the Democrats' proposal to attach the DREAM Act. Reid objected, saying the proposal was another GOP attempt to delay final action on the defense bill.

Levin said he hopes the bill will come up later this year, stressing that the authorization measure has passed every year since the early 1960s.

"It would be unthinkable that we not have a defense authorization bill," Levin said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.