Conservative Dem Mark Pryor Signs On To DADT Repeal, Calls For Vote This Year

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Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor (AR), long on the fence about the future of the military’s ban on openly gay service members, has come down on the side of repeal.

“On many previous occasions, I have said that I would oppose repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell until I had heard from our servicemen and women regarding this policy,” Pryor said in a brief statement this morning. “I have now carefully reviewed all of the findings, reports, and testimony from our armed forces on this matter and I accept the Pentagon’s recommendations to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Pryor was one of the few Democrats whose support of repealing DADT was not assured. A growing number of Democrats are supporting keeping the Senate on Capitol Hill longer than scheduled to see a vote on repealing DADT, and Pryor says he “will support procedural measures to bring it to a vote this year.”Though Pryor’s public backing of repeal gives credibility to Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-CT) past statements that repeal supporters have the 60 votes they need to force cloture on the defense spending bill with DADT repeal attached to it, the focus on how to move the bill remains on Republicans like Susan Collins (ME), who’s said she’ll vote for repealing DADT after a long period of debate and amendments on the defense bill.

That requirement, plus the looming scheduled recess date for the lame duck session, are still the major obstacles to a DADT repeal this year.

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