DREAMS DEFERRED: In what is becoming a depressing refrain of the Obama presidency, Senate Republicans again wielded their filibuster power to block a vote on two critical legislative items—the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) and the DREAM Act, the latter of which would expedite the process for foreign-born students of good standing to obtain citizenship. Both were bundled as amendments to the 2010 defense authorization bill, marking the first time in forty-eight years that Congress left for recess without approving annual military funding.
The amendments’ failure came despite broad support across the political spectrum. Gallup reported in May that 70 percent of Americans favor a repeal of DADT, including 60 percent of Republicans. Even Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said repealing the policy is the right thing to do. But this consensus wasn’t enough for Senator Susan Collins, the Democrats’ fair-weather friend from Maine, whom Harry Reid had hoped to court. She joined the rest of her caucus—along with Arkansas Democrats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor—in voting no, justifying her opposition on the grounds of procedural objections.
The DREAM Act had also enjoyed widespread popularity. On Meet the Press, Colin Powell urged Senate Republicans to vote yes. “We can’t be anti-immigration,” he said of his party. Angela Peoples, policy and advocacy manager for Campus Progress, was hopeful that the DREAM Act would again be put up for a vote during the lame-duck session of Congress, this time as a stand-alone bill. She noted that several senators who said they supported the measure voted against it on procedural grounds. “Let’s give them the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and take a vote for the DREAM Act on its merits,” she said.
Likewise, Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, was confident that the DADT repeal would be successful after the conclusion of midterm election–related politicking. “I think that’ll be a far better environment to get something constructive and get the bill passed,” he said. “Hopefully during the lame duck we can get the White House fully engaged in this.”
Sarvis also had choice words for Senator John McCain, who erratically asserted in a postvote news conference that gay and lesbian servicemembers were not being actively “outed.” “Senator McCain is just flat wrong,” Sarvis said. “It’s clear that he doesn’t understand the statute. He should ask us to come in and give him a briefing.” MICHAEL C. TRACEY
ONE NATION TOGETHER: The sobering new data on poverty have given fresh impetus to the One Nation Working Together movement, a coalition of union members, community activists, students, civil and human rights leaders and progressive politicians who will march in Washington on October 2. Wrestling the populist mantle away from the Tea Party and Glenn Beck, One Nation will call on government to do more for the increasing number of Americans whose basic needs go unmet. As the recent data show, one in seven Americans lives in poverty—that’s 44 million people.