Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Cloture Vote Passes 63-33

cloture don't ask don't tell
repeal don't ask, don't tell

The Senate just passed cloture on the standalone bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by a vote of 63-33. Six Republican Senators joined all but one Democratic Senator in voting yes. The final vote on the bill will be today at 3:00 PM.

What is a cloture vote? Cloture is a process for limiting debate on a measure, and it is the Senate’s only weapon against the filibuster. The details have changed several times since its creation a century ago, but here’s the rule as it stands today: cloture is invoked when three-fifths of all sworn-in senators vote for the cloture motion. The Senate nearly always has 100 members, putting the magic number at 60.

In other words, the cloture vote is the stand-off between a filibustering minority and the majority. If at least 60 senators vote Yea, the filibuster ends. If fewer than 60 vote Yea, the filibuster continues. In both cases, the side that “loses” has no further weapons to fight with.


“Gay, lesbian and bisexual service members posted around the world are standing a little taller today, but they’re still very much at risk because repeal is not final. I respectfully ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to use his authority to suspend all ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ investigations during this interim period. Until the President signs the bill, until there is certification, and until the 60-day Congressional period is over, no one should be investigated or discharged under this discriminatory law. Even with this historic vote, service members must continue to serve in silence until repeal is final. Certification and the 60-day Congressional requirement must be wrapped up no later than the first quarter of 2011. The bottom line: for now, gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members must remain cautiously closeted,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

“We owe a great deal of thanks to many Congressional leaders who got us here today — Patrick Murphy, Susan Davis, Speaker Pelosi, and House Majority Leader Hoyer. In the Senate this would not have happened without Chairman Levin and Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, Gillibrand, Collins and so many others. But let me also personally thank Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. This is the defining civil right initiative of this decade and today’s bill passage would not have been possible without Harry Reid’s determined leadership. And finally, without commitment and a clear plan from the White House for the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Review Working Group, we would not stand here today. I have no doubt the February testimony of Sec. Gates and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, would not have happened without the President,” Sarvis said.