Reid Expected To Hold Vote Tonight to Repeal Ban on Gays in Military--May Also Authorize Abortions in Military Hospitals

By Chris Neefus | December 8, 2010 | 5:05pm EST

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

( – With time left in the legislative session dwindling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to bring a vote to repeal the law behind the  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to the Senate floor as early as this evening, as part of a Defense authorization bill that would complete funding for the entire Department of Defense.

According to the Center for Military Readiness, the massive bill could also contain language that would authorize abortions to be performed at military hospitals. That amendment, attached by Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), would overturn a section of U.S. Code (10USC, Sec. 1093) that limits abortions performed by military personnel to those in cases of rape or incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

The law in question in the proposed repeal is Title 10, section 654 of the U.S. penal code, which says that it is against the law for homosexuals to serve in the military. This act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

If the Defense authorization bill passes and is signed by President Obama, the 1993 law (Title 10, USC 654) would be repealed, legalizing homosexual behavior in the armed forces.

So far, neither chamber of Congress has voted on what federal income tax rates will be for next year, and all 42 Senate Republicans have written in a letter to Harry Reid that they will filibuster any other legislation that precedes a vote on tax rates and funding of government operations.

“[W]e write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture [end debate] on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax rate increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers,” wrote the Senate Republicans.

Despite that pledge from Nov. 29, several Republicans are partial to overturning the Clinton era military policy, including Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). Sixty votes are needed to invoke “cloture,” which ends debate on a bill and allows it to be voted upon. Forty-one Republicans is enough to prevent cloture and keep debate on the legislation open.

Jared Young, a spokesman for one of the Senate's more conservative members, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), said it was not a done deal that a filibuster would succeed.

If Republicans remain united, it would fail to reach the necessary 60 votes threshold," Yound said. "It is unclear if that will be the case."


“Given the time constraints of the lame duck session and the other items that must be done (such as tax cuts and funding the government), it seems that moving to NDAA [Defense authorization bill] would again result in a truncated debate/consideration period," said Young. "Typically, NDAA is considered over about a two-week timeframe."

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