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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“In the Senate it’s don’t ask, don’t legislate”

Not everyone is inclined to think much of a woman who will put on a dress made of meat, but pop musician Lady Gaga’s activism inspires a question for Arizona Sen. John McCain and his naysaying Senate buddies: Why is that Gaga gets it, and you still don’t?

The Senate voted 56-43 on Tuesday in favor of beginning debate on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, just short of the 60 votes needed to block the Republican filibuster. McCain led the blockage of the bill, which included a measure that would repeal the military’s “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”” policy and pass the DREAM Act.

No Republicans voted to advance the bill. Two Democrats chose to vote no with Republicans, as did Nevada Sen. Harry Reid when it became apparent that the Democrats would not hit 60 votes. In accordance with Senate rules, Reid’s “”no”” vote allows him to revive the bill at a later date.

By choosing to obstruct debate over these provisions, Republicans also blocked a 1.4 percent pay raise for troops and $159 billion of funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republicans claimed the bill was being used to push election-year issues through the Senate and encourage Democratic voters to hit the polls come November.

“”To pursue a social and legislative agenda to galvanize voting blocks, I believe, is reprehensible,”” McCain said.

But both parties have similar provisions or “”add-ons”” to the defense bill every year and these topics matter a great deal, election year or not.

“”Why are we now trying to jam these things through?”” McCain said. “”It is all about the battle-effectiveness, the morale, of the men and women who are serving in the military.””

You can disregard the morale of gay and lesbian service members.  

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins echoed McCain, claiming she supports the DREAM Act and the repeal of “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”” but voted no because she felt the measures had little relevance to the appropriations bill.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said, “”I don’t think anyone will hold it against us”” for refusing to allow Democrats to politicize the defense bill.

I do. And so should you.

According to Democrats, Republicans were offered the opportunity to remove the measure on “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”” but refused to allow debate to open anyway. The irony in this refusal to open debate on the grounds that Democrats have politicized the bill is that it really is politicized now.

Repealing “”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”” and passing the DREAM Act would be major victories for the left, something both parties are aware of as November approaches. Just opening debate on the bill was simply too much of a risk too close to elections for Republicans to handle, so instead, they avoided the topic completely.

How’s that for political jockeying, McCain? You’ve made it clear that you’d rather talk tanning bed taxes with Snooki than civil rights with Gaga, but to prioritize partisan politics over groundbreaking legislation, I believe, is reprehensible.

 

— Kristina Bui is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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