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Senate votes for cloture on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ repeal almost certain

The United States Senate debated a stand-alone repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy today. The debate came after several failed attempts by the Senate to pass repeal as an amendment to the 2011 Defense Authorization Act.

Senate Republicans previously blocked the measures by forcing continued debate. Today was the first time that the Senate was able to pass cloture, allowing a final vote on the bill. The cloture vote was 63 to 33. Some 60 votes were needed for it to pass.

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U.S. House votes to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a stand-alone repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this afternoon. The House previously passed a measure to overturn the policy as part of a piece of defense legislation, but recent repeal stalls in the Senate prompted House leaders to revisit the issue.

The final vote total was 250 to 175.

Some 15 Republicans voted for repeal. Only five Republicans voted for repeal when the House took on the measure earlier in the year.

In the debate leading up to a final vote on the bill, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) made an impassioned plea on the House floor for passage.

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House to vote on stand-alone DADT repeal

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House Nancy Polosi (D-Ca.), Reps. Steny Howyer (D-Md.) and Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) will introduce a stand-alone bill in the House to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, according to Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The move comes after a similar announcement made last week by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.) of a stand-alone repeal measure in the Senate.

“We applaud  House Speaker Pelosi, Reps. Hoyer and Murphy for their extraordinary leadership in the waning hours of the lame-duck session,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in a press release issued this morning.

“Let’s be clear: we’ll still need 60 votes in the Senate,” Sarvis continued. “This ‘privileged’ House bill will need to pass the full House and then move to the Senate.  While we avoid a cloture vote to proceed and save time on the Senate floor, we’ll still need 60 votes to complete the bill and send it directly to the President’s desk.”

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DADT update: Sens. Lieberman and Collins announce stand-alone repeal

Late this afternoon, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) announced a plan to bring a repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to the Senate for a full vote apart from the 2011 Defense Authorization Act.

“We are working with our colleagues and are confident that there are at least 60 Senators who support repeal,” Lieberman Tweeted this afternoon.

According to Lieberman’s Twitter page, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will issue a “Rule 14” on the measure, which will allow the bill to bypass The Senate Armed Services Committee and come directly to the floor for a vote.

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Service chiefs say DADT should be repealed but question timing

The Senate Armed Services Committee

The Senate Armed Services Committee held a second day of testimony on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in light of a recent Pentagon report that suggests servicemembers were mostly positive or neutral to a repeal of the policy.

The leaders of each branch of the military stated that the policy could be repealed with limited disruption to military readiness and unit cohesion.

Each of the service chiefs suggested that the military would be able to handle a repeal, though several disagreed on the timing. Gen. Norton Schwartz, Chief of Staff for the Air Force, suggested deferring repeal in 2012, though he acknowledged the Air Force could handle a repeal with limited risk.