Senate Democrats today failed on a 57-40 vote to overcome a Republican filibuster of the 2011 defense authorization bill that includes a provision repealing the 1993 exclusion of openly homosexual men and women from military service.
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., abruptly called for the floor vote to invoke cloture and allow the Senate to debate and vote on the defense authorization bill, acknowledging that negotiations with Republicans to get to the 60-vote threshold had fallen apart.
"We've tried every possible way to move forward on this," Reid said, adding that he has "bent over backwards to get the bill done."
Except for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, all other Republican moderates, whom Reid had hoped to win over to allow the defense bill to advance on the floor, voted with the rest of the GOP caucus to block the measure.
Collins, who had been wrangling with Reid over the parameters for debate on the defense bill, called Reid's decision to call a vote "unfortunate." Even though she ultimately voted with the Democrats, she and other Republicans also had insisted on completing work on the pending tax package before voting to proceed with the defense bill.
"I just do not understand why we can't proceed along a path that would bring us to success and that will allow us to get the 60 votes to proceed," Collins said. "I thought we were extremely close to getting a reasonable agreement yesterday."