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Lieberman, Collins Won’t Quit on ‘Don’t Ask’ Repeal

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call
From left: Dr. William R. Cline, a retired Army colonel; Saif Khan, an Iraq War veteran; and Bradley Reichard, principal of Focus Communications, deliver petitions in favor of repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” to the office of Sen. Susan Collins on Thursday.

“Nothing was offered in terms of a reasonable process and reasonable amendments. I’m sorry we’re at this point, but I think he had a path forward and he chose not to do it,” Murkowski said of Reid. “He chose to close the door, and I think it’s unfortunate.”

Gay rights organizations lambasted Republicans for obstructing the defense bill. They hailed Lieberman and Collins’ move to push a stand-alone repeal measure, which both chambers would have to pass and which Reid told Lieberman he would co-sponsor. The House passed its own defense bill, which included the DADT repeal language, in May.

Senate Democrats also sought to place blame squarely on the GOP, arguing that it held up not only a repeal of DADT but also pay raises and benefits for troops. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) has called for the Senate to work past Dec. 17 to complete action on the defense bill, although Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) issued a statement acknowledging that the path forward is grim.

“I also believe that it is vitally important to our national security to pass a Defense Authorization Act,” Levin said. “I will continue to explore paths that could lead to that goal, though given the limited amount of time left in this Congress, that may be too high a mountain to climb.”

A host of legislative priorities remain for the Senate to consider in the week the chamber is slated to be in session. Reid is expected to put forward an extension of Bush-era tax cuts in the coming days and to move on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded next year. Republicans have maintained they would not allow action on any other bills until those two measures were approved. The White House is also passionately advocating for the Senate to adopt the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty before year’s end, which requires 67 votes for ratification.

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