This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and determining which amendments could be offered to legislation authorizing annual funding in 2011 for Defense Department programs.
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) urged support for the resolution and the underlying bill: “In the end, the bill that we will vote on later today will strengthen our national defense, will give our troops the equipment they need to do their jobs and will take care of them and their families. The bill also invests in military infrastructure and technology, which will create jobs here in the United States and will stimulate growth throughout the economy.”
Pingree also urged support for an amendment that would repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy towards gay servicemembers. This policy prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and barred military officials from inquiring about soldiers’ sexuality. The effort to repeal this policy was backed by gay rights groups, most Democrats, the Obama administration, and key high-ranking military officials, such as Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Pingree said: “I am very encouraged and pleased by the fact that this rule [resolution] allows for an amendment [repealing DADT) to be made in order by Mr. [Patrick] Murphy from Pennsylvania, which, if passed, will finally put the military on the path to repealing the misguided and outdated Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. I am looking forward to voting for the amendment and to seeing the end of this discriminatory policy once and for all.”
Most Republicans, however, opposed the amendment repealing DADT, and therefore voted against this resolution, which allowed the amendment repealing the policy to be debated and voted on. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) argued that the process by which Democrats sought to repeal DADT failed to take into account input from the troops: “…When the President announced his decision to repeal the current policy [DADT]…it was agreed to by all, including the President, that a survey would be sent to all the troops so that their input would be taken into account regarding how best to implement the new policy, and that a report with such recommendations as to how to best implement the new policy would be issued this December, before any legislative action was taken…So, breaking the agreement now by having this vote today is most unfortunate, and I strongly disagree with the decision of the President, the Speaker, and the majority leadership to do so, to break that agreement today.”
The House agreed to the resolution by a vote of 241-178. 240 Democrats and 1 Republican voted “yea.” 167 Republicans and 11 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on legislation authorizing annual funding in 2011 for Defense Department programs.