Senate votes to repeal DADT; DREAM Act falls short

December 18, 2010

Produced by Associated Press and City Room

Updated at: 10:30 a.m. on 12/19/2010

The Senate passed legislation Saturday that would overturn the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops - a policy known as "don't ask, don't tell."
      
The final vote of 65-31 moves the bill to President Barack Obama, who says he'll sign it into law.

Both of Illinois' U.S. Senators, Democrat Dick Durbin and Republican Mark Kirk, voted in favor of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

In a statement, Kirk said, "I very carefully read the Joint Chiefs of Staff report and met at length with Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead. Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I support the Joint Chief's recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete."
      
Republicans had blocked previous votes on the bill on procedural grounds. But with a major tax bill finished and a Pentagon study released in favor of repealing the ban, eight Republicans joined 55 Democrats and two independents in supporting the bill.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans blocked a bill to grant hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children a chance to gain legal status if they enroll in college or join the military.
      
Sponsors of what they call the DREAM Act needed 60 Senate votes for it, but fell five short. The House passed the bill last week.

It was a last-ditch effort to enact it before it Republicans take control of the House from Democrats in January.
      
Immigrant advocates viewed the measure as a step toward providing a path to legal status for up to 12 million illegal immigrants by focusing on the most sympathetic among them first. Critics called it a back-door grant of amnesty that would encourage more illegal immigration.

Kirk joined a Republican filibuster to block the DREAM Act, legislation which is strongly supported by Durbin, the bill's chief proponent.