Peter J. Smith


Senate shoots down ‘don’t ask,’ military abortion ban repeal

Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 8, 2010 ( – U.S. Senate Democrats failed in their bid to bring a defense authorization bill to the Senate floor that included repeal of the military’s ban on homosexuals and the ban on abortion at military bases on Thursday.

The sudden vote was called by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in mid-afternoon, taking GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) by surprise. Collins supported repeal of the 1993 law, known by its corresponding Pentagon policy called “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” but was negotiating for the GOP to be able to offer 10 relevant amendments and 34 hours of debate.

“There was such a clear path for us to be able to get this bill done and I am perplexed and frustrated that this important bill is going to become a victim of politics,” Collins said. She added that she thought she and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) were “bargaining in good faith” with Reid and that they were close to a deal.

The more than $700 billion defense authorization bill also included an amendment submitted by then-Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) that would overturn the 1996 federal ban on abortions at U.S. military bases.

The Senate voted for cloture 57 – 40 along party lines, just three votes shy of breaking the GOP filibuster.

Notably pro-life Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia crossed the aisle to vote “no” on the motion to proceed.

The National Right to Life Committee has stated that “yes” votes on the defense authorization bill would count against Senators on the annual legislative scorecard that is kept by NRLC.

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