Udall Fumes As “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Repeal Fails

UPDATE: According to DC reporter Chris Geidner, Sen. Mark Udall is introducing a standalone bill to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Reportedly co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins, Lieberman says that the bill will get a vote in the Senate before year’s end.

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The statement we just received from Sen. Mark Udall, unabridged:

Udall: Critical National Defense Act Falls Victim to Partisan Obstruction

Bill Includes Provisions Udall Advocated or Authored, Including Increased Pay and Benefits for Military Families, Expansion of Behavioral Health Programs, End to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’  

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Mark Udall again joined a majority of his colleagues in voting to begin debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and would have ended the military’s outdated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.  But for the second time this year, Republicans chose to block a pay raise for the troops, as well as critical provisions to keep service members and our nation safe.

Udall, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, helped shape the bill.  Provisions he fought for include a behavioral health program based on one at Fort Carson, which helps ensure soldiers can get treatment before, during and after they serve on the battlefield.  He proposed a related amendment to the bill, which would have expanded this program to not fewer than four other installations.  Another provision Udall authored would have extended TRICARE health insurance for military families, enabling the children of active duty service members and retirees to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.

“Today, my Republican colleagues filibustered a pay increase for our troops at a time when our country is losing jobs and military families across the country are struggling to get by.  They blocked provisions that are critical to defending our nation and keeping our service members safe.  In fact, this will be the first time in 49 years that defense authorization legislation has not passed into law – all because Republicans object to repealing an outdated policy that is harming our ability to retain and recruit qualified service members while we’re at war,” Udall said.

“If my colleagues were serious about resolving our differences over this bill, they would have allowed us to begin debate,” Udall continued.  “Instead, we’re gridlocked over politics at the expense of our troops and our national security.  The American people – and our service members – want us to lead.  Obstructing debate is not leadership.”

In addition to the provisions Udall authored, he has helped lead the efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  He believes the outdated policy has weakened our national defense as it forces out otherwise qualified service members solely because of their sexual orientation.

The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision would have respected the Pentagon’s timeline for studying how to repeal the law.  It would give military leaders the flexibility to implement repeal in a way that tracks with military standards and guidelines.  Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testified earlier this month that repeal could be carried out with minimal impact on readiness.  Gates also urged Congress to repeal the law before the end of the year.

“At a time when we’re fighting two wars, we need every skilled service member we have – airmen, mechanics, translators, and others,” Senator Udall continued.  “The Pentagon’s top leaders, the President, and a majority of the American people support repeal.  We owed it to our troops to at least debate the issue.”

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  1. ThillyWabbit says:

    Lieberman, Collins & Udall are introducing a standalone repeal bill and Reid has agreed to bring it up in the lame duck. It’s fraught with risk. But there’s still a flicker of hope.

  2. BlueCat says:

    from every outlet they have available, saturate the media with the message of what the alleged troop supporting GOP really cares and does not care less about, then I just give up.  The whole reason Rs are where they are is because they got Dems to believe that they can always get the public on their side in all message battles and Dems decided that resistance in the message wars was futile.  They might get called bad names like “liberal”.  Now a very healthy  majority do not favor continuing tax breaks for the rich, do favor killing don’t ask don’t tell and instead of begging hat in hand and clinging to a phony ideal of civility that is not returned and bipartisanship that is unilateral, Obama and Dem leadership should be going straight to the public.  

    We should be hearing the message via every media outlet we encounter every day that the GOP has become a gang of hostage takers with us as the hostages.  We should be hearing Dems from Obama on down shouting out the truth about the real GOP priorities that don’t include the public, don’t include the military, don’t include vets, don’t include police, fire fighters, or any other first responders, don’t include the middle class or anyone other than themselves and their corporate overlords and don’t include cutting spending, the debt or the deficit either.

    Anger is a resource the GOP and Tea Partiers know enough to value.  Time for Obama and our Dem leadership to stop “rising above” and get down to fighting fire with fire”,

    Thank you, Senator Udall. Glad I’ve always been a supporter.  Even if you never make a coffee date with me.

  3. reubenesp says:

    This delay will give Udall time to shame a few Republicans into submission and try again before the end of the year.  As Harry Reid did today by tabling the Dream Act.

    Just like Republicans to “balance the budget” on the backs of the troops and other common folk, while they grab hundreds of billions for the wealthy.

    Her Majesty’s Treasury has been attacked by rioters in London, along with Parliament, the Supreme Court and the Prince of Wales and his wife. So much for austerity measures.  

  4. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    To allow a bigoted minority to stop equal rights. This is so wrong.

    And once again kudos to Senator Udall for stepping up to fight for what’s right.

  5. Ellie says:

    I hope he keeps on fighting for what is right.

  6. Littletonian says:

    why DADT needs to be repealed by Congressional vote? DADT was instituted in the form of an executive order by President Clinton, right? So why does Congress have a say in its repeal?

  7. allyncooper says:

    And just wait for the next two years, it’s gonna get worse.

    The House controlled by Speaker Hardon, the Senate manipulated by the minority because of “the rules” of that esteemed body, and a president apparently willing to do their bidding with an eye on the election.

    Not the change I voted for.  

    • The Democratic Caucus has had a lot of meetings recently, and I believe most of their discussion has revolved around rules reform.

      I would not be surprised if something along the lines of Sen. Mark Udall’s proposal (return to 60% of members present to invoke cloture, plus serious restrictions on when filibusters can be made, plus restrictions on holds) passes on January 5th.  It may be better, it may be worse – but I predict the rules of the Senate will change for the better, slightly or greatly…

    • BlueCat says:

      for all kinds of crap they were against because it was tacked on to military funding legislation during the Bush years and if they didn’t the Rs would be all over every TV and radio talk show accusing them of not supporting the troops? And it never occurred to them to try to counter the R message machine?

      Why, oh why can’t Dems ever do the same? Is it just because caving to Rs, whether they happen to be in the majority or in the minority, has gotten to be the knee jerk Dem reaction? Even when polls tell them the public doesn’t like R policy so there’s no reason to keep on cowering?

      Why is it that instead of hearing attacks on unpatriotic greedy, heartless Rs,  what we’re mainly hearing from team Obama is attacks on fellow Dems who are tired of caving.  Obama is accusing all those of us who are sick of seeing him open with bargaining positions based on giving up as much as possible as a first offer and bargaining down from there of being unreasonable extremists who want all  or nothing.

      All?  Seriously?  I think we’re very reasonable Democrats who want at least a fraction as much out of Obama and Co. as what they’ve been willing to lavish on Rs from day one. And guess what?  Rs main priority is still to crush them, the public good be damned. They seem to think they lost so many seats in 2010 because they didn’t cave enough or beat up on their base enough. Just who do they think is going to be out working their hearts out for them in 2012?   Republicans who appreciate all that caving?

      I don’t know how this is going to end.  Probably not well since the damage was done before this past election and all we have to look forward to now is more R bullying and Dem caving. But I’m grateful that Senator Udall is at least making an effort.  

      I’d like to see some real toughness from Bennet too since he doesn’t have to run again for 6 years. In fact I wish all the Dem Senators elected this cycle would just decide that they’re going to quit caving even if it means they will only get to be Senators for the next 6 years. It’s not as if Senators ever have a tough time making big bucks after they retire these days so why not just go for it?  

  8. Wrong Way Corrigan says:

    I would like to see the Dems require the Republicans to have a real fillibuster.  One where they have to talk for days on end, not just have a cloture vote.  Then, all day long, while the Republicans talk on the Senate floor, the Dems can go on TV and say “we can’t vote on taxes, we can’t vote on funding the war, we can’t vote on START, because the Republicans are taking up all the Senate’s time supporting discrimination against Americans who are trying to serve their country.”  That would be some good PR.  

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      You want a killer political message – the Dems forcing a filibuster through Christmas because taking care of America is so important to them that they’ll work through Christmas. And the Republicans holding up UI, etc will be compared to Scrooge daily.

      That would be a beautiful message.

  9. Denver Unemployment Examiner says:

     

    It is such a refreshing change to see my Senator standing up on issues that I care about. Wish Bennet would get the message. I have 2 gay brothers; one of them sadly passed away 5 years ago at the age of 35. LGBT has been a difficult issue that I have had to face in my life for many years now.

    As I watched an interview about the DADT issue the other night, it hit me like a rock: as an unmeployed 99er I have been ridiculed, put down, called every nasty name in the book – and have beern left behind by this country. It’s all been unbearably painful at times – even though I KNOW that what’s being said is soooo untrue. It literally hit me like a rock, what my brothers and many others – especially those in the military – have had to endure their entire lives.  It was an epiphany of sorts.

    Much thanks to Mark Udall for being so outspoken on this issue and the tax cut issue. I’m a newcomer to this political thing, but this is honestly the FIRST time I’ve witnessed my representatives talk publicly about issues I feel strongly about. Mark Udall earned himself some points with me in the last few days; that’s good b/c I was done with him and his ‘wilderness’ message.

    Denver Unemployment Examiner

    http://www.examiner.com/unempl

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