Yesterday, Majority Leader Reid gave a floor speech about the Senate’s lame duck agenda.
Mr. President, as far as lameduck sessions of the Senate go, our agenda is rather ambitious, and the session itself is relatively long. It did not have to be this way. We have tried many times this Congress to tackle each of the priorities on our agenda. Each time we have tried, the minority has tried to shut down the Senate. Republicans ground the Senate to a halt and forced endless hours of inactivity. That is why we were here voting on Sunday--on Saturday; I am sorry. Thank goodness it was not on Sunday. That is why we will still be here another few weeks.
We have a long to-do list. But these priorities are not mere leftovers. They are critical to our economy and our national security, to our families and our country's future, and we will resolve them before we adjourn.
[. . .]
Obstruction has consequences. None of the issues on this long list is new. Neither is the minority's effort to keep the Senate from working and keeping Senators from doing our jobs.
It is time to roll up our sleeves--not dig in our heels. My hope for the final weeks of this year is that Republicans finally will realize we all have much more to gain by working together than working against each other.
That got me thinking about Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Its repeal constitutes just 4 pages (203-207) of the 854-page FY11 Defense authorization bill. That means GOP obstruction is holding up a bill over just 0.47% of its text.
So what’s in the other 99.53%?
As Majority Leader Reid points out:
We are also going to repeal the discriminatory don't ask, don't tell rule. We are going to match our policy with our principles and finally say that in America everyone who steps up to serve our country should be welcomed.
Republicans know they do not have the votes to take this repeal out of the Defense authorization bill, so they are holding up the whole bill. But when they refuse to debate it, they also hold up a well-deserved raise for our troops, better health care for our troops and their families, equipment such as MRAP vehicles that keep our troops safe, and other critical wartime efforts in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts around the world.
We’ve been waiting 17 years for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But our troops are also waiting. The Senate must act posthaste on the FY11 Defense authorization bill. Take care of repeal. Take care of our troops. Take care of our nation’s defense.
Don’t let anyone tell you that neither the will nor the time are available. Show the Senate that they are. Click here to contact your Senators, and here for information about this Friday’s rally at the Capitol.