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#SenateFail and one way the Senate can avoid it

Don't Ask Don't Tell

By Adam Bink

Paul Rieckhoff, who serves as Executive Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, penned a sharply-worded piece late last night  at Huffington Post on the failure of the Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. I don’t agree with everything he writes, particularly on the issue of blame, but after he does a great job going through what is at stake if the Senate fails to pass important provisions for the military, I want to highlight this section and the last two paragraphs (bolding mine):

So if the obstructionists get their way, and Reid and the President fail to galvanize a clear path around them to passage, personal politics and Congressional incompetence will prevent troops from getting the lifesaving support they need from Washington for the first time in 48 years. And that would be an embarrassing precedent to set.

At a time when we have nearly 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, 50,000 in Iraq and over 2 million vets back home, passing this legislation should be a no-brainer for Washington – especially if you see the full picture.

And yes, they’re all to blame – both parties did their part to ensure legislative mutual annihilation. And that is why there is such growing anger at all things Washington and a hunger for independent leaders like Mayor Bloomberg. The American people should not let the politicians get away with pointing fingers all around this time. Everyone did not screw this up equally. Leaders get the credit; leaders deserve the blame. And the American people should not let either party spin us into thinking otherwise.

The President, Senator Majority Leader Reid and Senator McConnell should all be held accountable. If NDAA and all this other critical legislation is not passed before the end of 2010, it won’t be by accident. It’s takes significant effort (or enormous incompetence) to get this little done for this long. And it will indeed be a failure of epic proportions.

So if you’ve never called your Senator before in your life, this would be a good time to start. Tell them to step up and get something – anything – done for the American people. And don’t let them spin you or bury you with finger pointing and excuses. Tell them you don’t care if they want a holiday break. They don’t deserve one.

They should stay until the work is done. Our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are waiting for this support. Lives literally depend on it. And if our troops can work over the holidays, so can our Senators. If they don’t, their legacy is simple: #SenateFail.

Paul’s right- it would be a good time to start. It would also be a good time to ask friends, family, and colleagues to start. The target list, unchanged as of Friday, is below:

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): 202-224-6665 (supports repeal, but mixed signals on the stand-alone bill)

George Voinovich (R-OH): 202-224-3353 (no position)

Olympia Snowe (R-ME): 202-224-5344 (no position)

Richard Lugar (R-IN): 202-224-4814 (no position)

Judd Gregg (R-NH): 202-224-3324 (no position)

Scott Brown (R-MA): 202-224-4543 (supports repeal, but has not made a position clear yet on the stand-alone bill)

Kit Bond (R-MO): 202-224-5721 (no position)

Mark Kirk (R-IL): 202-224-2854 (no position)

Joe Manchin (D-WV): 202-224-3954 (no position, but mixed signals on repeal)

Please keep making those calls, ask the Senator to support the Lieberman/Collins stand-alone bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and if the Senator has yet a position on the  bill. Then, report what you heard at, and in the comments. This public “wiki” count makes it useful so we can follow up with Senators and revise our target list.

One other thing- I spent the weekend at Rootscamp, a great conference for progressive online and offline organizers. A lot of folks came up and asked me what the chances are that the Lieberman/Collins stand-alone bill would make it to the President’s desk by January 5th, so I spent a good part of the weekend thinking about the biggest obstacles and how to overcome them. More on them all later, but one of the biggest, if not the biggest, is the Senate calendar.

The Senate is currently scheduled to adjourn on Friday. The tax legislation that has been clogging everything up because of Republican intransigence is scheduled for a test cloture vote this afternoon (although I don’t think we will be out of the weeds yet on that). Also on the agenda is trying to push a new START treaty on arms reduction, along with the NDAA and a number of other bills that have a shot at passage once tax legislation is cleared.

So clearly, the calendar is an obstacle. This needs to be done before January 5th, when the next Congress will convene. As I argued here, Congress voted on health care legislation in the early morning hours of December 24th, 2009- and that, at a bare minimum, should be expected of this Congress, particularly because of the #SenateFail to get much of anything done, as Paul describes it using a Twitter reference, in the last few months. And if the President calls this legislation a priority for his Administration enough to mention it in the State of the Union, make calls to swing Senators, and have his Administration’s key officials work to advocate on behalf of it, I would hope the President calls on Congress to stay and get the job done- through January 5th if necessary. And holding another vote that the Majority Leader expects to fail isn’t enough- until both sides are at complete loggerheads, keep at it. The Senate should complete the tax legislation as quickly as possible, then stay to get as much done as possible on everything else- with repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and defense funding at the top of the priority list.

If our troops, gay or straight, can work over the holidays, as can many of you reading, then so should our elected officials. The American people deserve nothing less. We’re doing our job by making calls (don’t forget that the target list is above). The Senate leadership should keep the body in session to do its job.


  • 1. Ann S.  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:10 am


  • 2. adambink  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:15 am

    To answer a few common questions I've seen in the comments, yes, there has been a bill introduced- S. 4022, "A bill to provide for the repeal of the Department of Defense policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'." It has three co-sponsors- Sens. Collins, Mark Udall, and Gillibrand- but don't take that as a sign of strength, as not all Senators co-sponsor bills they vote for as a matter of course, but more importantly there is the time element and review process to go through for bill co-sponsorship. Anyway, the Government Printing Office hasn't yet submitted text to the Library of Congress, but as Sen. Lieberman said, expect text that is the same or very similar to the amendment attached to the NDAA. And don't worry about the bill being referred to the Senate Armed Services Committee- this is also a matter of course for legislation, and won't prevent Sen. Reid from calling it directly to the floor under Rule XIV. So in short, everything is a matter of formality at this moment. The most important item is to call the swing Senators on the list above, ask them to support the Lieberman/Collins stand-alone bill to repeal DADT, and ask if they've taken a position. Then report in the comments, and at "", what you heard.

  • 3. Ronnie  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:17 am

    "And if our troops can work over the holidays, so can our Senators."


  • 4. Ronnie  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:22 am

    click notify before post….(sighs)…. : / ….Ronnie

  • 5. BK  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:25 am

    This type of fail isn't as entertaining as the #NOMfail was (and is).

    OT: the demographics of this comments board has changed a bit since p8tt's inception. People also may have moved. So, what state/country do you all call home?

    For me, right now, it's Adana, Turkey. I'm looking forward to going back to the States–been here a couple months on business.

  • 6. adambink  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Update- the bill is now S. 4023 and has 27 co-sponsors, listed below.

    Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Collins, Susan M. [ME] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Coons, Christopher A. [DE] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Dodd, Christopher J. [CT] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Franken, Al [MN] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Harkin, Tom [IA] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Leahy, Patrick J. [VT] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Levin, Carl [MI] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Lincoln, Blanche L. [AR] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Merkley, Jeff [OR] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Murray, Patty [WA] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Reid, Harry [NV] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Udall, Mark [CO] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Udall, Tom [NM] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] – 12/10/2010
    Sen Wyden, Ron [OR] – 12/10/2010

  • 7. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:29 am

    time for more calling! subs

  • 8. Sagesse  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Question for Adam: Could the NDAA pass, after appropriate time for amendments and debate, in January? This is certainly not the ideal situation, and sends a horrible message to the troops, but it strikes me that, of all the 'priority' legislation, this one is the safest to let slide into next month.

    If congress can be persuaded to stay, and the NDAA can be fit into an extended schedule, along with all the rest, it should happen. Would like to understand the options better, because something's gotta give.

  • 9. Kathleen  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:54 am

    California here – near Pasadena, home of the Rose Parade…. barricades already being distributed to street corners in anticipation of Jan 1. :)

  • 10. Kathleen  |  December 13, 2010 at 2:58 am

    I'm guessing the problem is getting an NDAA that includes DADT repeal passed once the new Congress is in session (w/newly elected Repubs) in Jan. From what little I understand of how Congress works, I think that if there are any amendments that change the bill in the Senate from the form approved by the House, it would have to go back to the House. And with the next year's Repub House majority, there's little chance a repeal of DADT would go through.

  • 11. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Turkey! Rose Parade! :) Fun!

    SLC here!…though celebrating new year in Harry Reid's home State, (Las Vegas,NV) with hubby our fabulously fun & spunky 13 year old girls. We are not much for the religious or patriotic holidays but have traditions of renewal related to the New Year.

  • 12. Ed Cortes  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:08 am

    San Francisco east bay (Lafayette) in CA.

  • 13. Judy  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:13 am

    Roseville, California, near Sacramento.

  • 14. Sagesse  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:13 am

    Sorry, I should have specified… NDAA stripped of DADT repeal, which would be voted on in December. I agree DADT repeal will not survive the new congress, and has to be voted on in December.

    Unfortunately, it seems inevitable to have to choose… respect the military as a whole, and disrespect LGBT servicemembers, or vice versa. Including repeal in the NDAA was a reasonable approach at one time, but it has now outlived its usefulness, since the Republican Senate leadership and John McCain are now holding the NDAA hostage to repeal… because they can.

  • 15. Ed  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:34 am

    Breaking News….

    Friends, DADT is going down. The only question remaining, is how?

  • 16. Michelle Evans  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:41 am

    BK, Are you by chance supporting our military in some way in that area, maybe at Insirlik? Haven't been to that side of Turkey myself, but I have spent a lot of time in Istanbul, and places like Izmir and the Aegean region, and in Antalya and Side, along the Mediterranean. Beautiful country with some amazing history. Wish I could go back, but unfortunately being transgender in Turkey is not a safe thing to be.

  • 17. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:45 am

    page 6, line 16 of complaint:

    "Lieutenant who had been under Mr. Almy’s supervision in the 606th ACS:
    As a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute I have seen plenty ofexamples of good and bad leadership. Based on my personal andprofessional interaction with Maj Almy I can say that he is trulyone of the best. . . . One would be hard pressed to find someone in
    the directorate that did not respect him. His troops loved workingfor him and were willing to do anything for him at a moment’snotice. He demands the best out of his people and always gets it. Ifgiven the opportunity to work for Maj Almy again, my answerwould be a resounding YES! If removed, the Air Force would be
    losing a great man and a great leader. When he was relieved of hisduties as Chief of Maintenance the 606 ACS fell apart. It becamepainfully evident how important Maj Almy was not only to themission but to his troops."

  • 18. StevenJ  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:47 am

    I just called Senator Lugar's DC office and got his voicemail greeting. "We are experiencing high call volumes." After leaving my name & address, I read the sample script from the Courage Campaign page.

  • 19. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:48 am

    "high volumes" : D

  • 20. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:52 am

    So how can we impeach McCain for lies?

    page 7, line 10:

    "Air Force ultimately discharged Mr. Almy under DADT, for making a statement about his sexual orientation in private email correspondence while he was deployed in Iraq."

  • 21. anonygrl  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:53 am

    "Mr. Knight has the unique distinction of being discharged twice under DADT."

    Can you imagine being so dedicated to the service that you have been discharged TWICE under DADT already, and yet you STILL want to go back? This one astonishes me.

  • 22. Sagesse  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:53 am

    A very strategic move.

  • 23. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 13, 2010 at 3:54 am


  • 24. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  December 13, 2010 at 4:08 am

    I keeping getting Busy signals…keep trying….

  • 25. adambink  |  December 13, 2010 at 4:20 am

    In short, yes, although some of the things outlined in Paul's post are priorities as well. On the other hand, they are priorities that are likely to be enacted by a Republican House. So a short answer without getting into legislativese is, yes.

  • 26. Steve  |  December 13, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Yeah, that one's funny. Discharged service members are supposed to receive a reentry code that prohibits reenlistment. Accidentally he didn't and was called back from the reserves.

    Callback from the inactive ready reserve isn't THAT unusual though. Happened to others too who left voluntarily (resigned or didn't reenlist) and then went back in again.

  • 27. Kathleen  |  December 13, 2010 at 4:49 am

    And filed in ND California (9th Circuit).

  • 28. Sagesse  |  December 13, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Agreed that the whole of NDAA is a priority. It strikes me, however, that there is little left after DADT repeal is stripped out that is so controversial that it would not be amended, debated, passed and conferenced/reconciled as the first item on the Senate agenda in January, a delay of a month or so.

  • 29. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 13, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I think we need a new target list, with ALL of our Senators and Representatives on it. It is not only the obstructionists who have blocked this, it is the ones who are in favor of repealing DADT and DOMA, and passing ENDA and UAFA, who have not had enough balls to stand up to the obstructionists and vote to end the filibusters the obstructionists have misused to clog the pipes up.

  • 30. Lauren  |  December 13, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Do you know why Mikulski (MD) hasn't chosen to co-sponsor? She does support DADT repeal, correct? Just trying to see where my senators stand. :)

  • 31. Fake Name  |  December 13, 2010 at 6:58 am

    RAJ (F/K/A/ RAW) It is a pity more people do not directly respond to your posts, but don't take it personal, I notice that, by an large, most people just post what is on their mind and never bother to recognize a good post from another member (unless it is their… xxxooo…"I Love You , I Love You" friend of course). I'll never forget you writing that we should lay down in front of the NOM buses. You were sooooooooooooo right on and so on target, and as I recall not one person bothered enough to give you a response to your fabulous idea. It was a very original idea and spot on. You are a great contributor with good original ideas and you do not get enough credit on this board. I have reasons why I rarely post, but this time I'll poke my head up just to give you the "atta boy" you are justly deserving of. I don't get it, you respond to other people's posts but most of the time your posts go un-replied to. I give you props for hanging in there and continuing with the fight. You are to be admired. Honestly laying down in front of the busses was sheer genius, and it is NOT the only good idea from you, it is just one that comes to mind as I write this. Just like your idea above, is also a good one.

  • 32. Fake Name  |  December 13, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I have a question for you RAJ, looking back, do you think that the strategy in Iowa (off site counter protests, let's keep this polite and civil, "We are above it all") was the right strategy? In the political arena do you see this as a winning strategy? Well I guess not just for RAJ but for anyone.

  • 33. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 13, 2010 at 7:20 am

    No, I really do NOT think that was the right strategy. The only way to get the word out and to show people that they know us, that we are their neighbors, that we are their doctors, their lawyers, their soldiers, their Marines, their Sailors, their Air Force members, their NFL players, their NBA players, their NASCAR drivers, their grocery store managers, etc. is to actually be seen and heard. We have to be open, we have to be out, we have to be visible. Otherwise, we are just a faceless and nameless "other" and that makes it too easy to ignore us and to pretend that we are monsters.

  • 34. Richard A. Jernigan  |  December 13, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Thanks. I also know that sometimes people get behind in reading the posts, and there is also the fact that everyone here has different reasons for being part of the P8TT family.

  • 35. Sarah  |  December 13, 2010 at 7:38 am

    I agree, anonygirl! I have been amazed at these sorts of stories as well. I guess it is one of few jobs (if not the only one) that is so unique that there is only one option if it is what you want to do with your life. These people alone should be enough evidence that there is no logical reason to kick them out in the first place: they are obviously dedicated to the mission, lifestyle (of the armed services) and their people there. Possibly moreso than others they serve with!

  • 36. Sagesse  |  December 13, 2010 at 8:07 am

    More broadly, since the judges were not in a position to deliver a counter message for ethical reasons, it would have helped if the 'community' had been more vocal and forceful in general in Iowa. It's bad enough when NOM & Co throw unconscionable amounts of money at an issue; that the targets were not political actors and had no 'campaign' or 'campaign funds' at all was very difficult.

    Typical bully tactics. Pick on the ones who can't or won't defend themselves.

  • 37. Rhie  |  December 13, 2010 at 8:54 am


    Also, what's with all the trolls lately? Yeesh.

  • 38. Kate  |  December 13, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Cheers, rd.

  • 39. SLDN and legal partners f&hellip  |  December 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

    […] thread, word just came in that Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and their allied legal counsel have filed a lawsuit against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, calling the policy […]

  • 40. BK  |  December 14, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Michelle –
    Actually, yes. Incirlik Air Base. It's all right here. Too polluted, hot (in the summer, "spring," and "fall"), but some areas of the country are nice. Especially on the Black Sea Coast. I just went to Izmir over Thanksgiving. Nice place–much cleaner and greener than Adana! Locals of Izmir told me Adana was like Texas. LOL. Rednecks. :)

  • 41. Sen. Manchin’s hear&hellip  |  December 14, 2010 at 7:53 am

    […] if you’re in another state with a target Senator- the list is here- you can do the  same. You’ve been driving calls, and letters are another way to bring […]

  • 42. fern  |  December 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

    In French when you call someone Machin you mean "what's is name?"
    All I can see is that the courts are on your side but so far Ms Witt as not been reinstated in her job, judge Phillips (bless her soul, I'm an atheist) has not had the power to stop DADT. On the other hand a majority of people are disgusted with the politicians, the U.S. is on a political stand still which means regressing, since the clock keeps on ticking.
    My question is:
    what do you do if all the courts are on your side and the Government ignores the courts?
    Before 1789 a few courts of justice rejected some policies but were ignored by the government.

    I for myself wonder would it be a repeat of 1776 followed by a 1789 well supported by B Franklin
    I do not like bloodshed and waste.

  • 43. Kathleen  |  December 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

    The government has not ignored the courts. It's just exhausting all available avenues for appealing the decisions. This is not the same as defying them.

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