The Senate struck down a measure to proceed on a vote to authorize a major military spending bill Tuesday, a move that left both parties blaming the other for its failure.
Republicans refused to vote for the bill to proceed because of contentious amendments in the measure, including a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to include another that provides children of illegal immigrants who weren’t born in the U.S. a path to citizenship if they serve in the military or go to college.
Shortly before the Senate took up a motion to proceed, Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Armed Service Committee, said it would be “unthinkable” for the bill not to pass, but added that he would not support removing the amendments that are keeping the bill stalled in the Senate.
“It would be unthinkable if we do not have a defense authorization bill,” Levin said. “It’s got very important provisions for men and women in the military and their families, to support their missions and give them the kind of support they deserve. You have to pass a bill to do many of these things.”
Levin added, however, that he would not support removing the amendments even if it meant the bill’s defeat and accused Republicans of “thwarting the Senate from operating.”
“You can’t just say a minority can filibuster a bill unless you give them their way on an amendment,” Levin said.
After the vote, Arizona Sen. McCain, the lead Republican on the Armed Services Committee who has sparred with Levin over the bill for the past few weeks, blamed Democrats for holding up the vote.
“It was a blatant and cynical attempt to galvanize the Hispanic vote in the case of DREAM Act and to also energize the gay and lesbian vote in the case of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” McCain said.
Although a majority of the Senate voted in favor of the motion to proceed, it did not reach the 60 votes needed. The Senate Democratic leadership can put the motion back up for a vote at any time.