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Eight Republicans buck party on 'don't ask' repeal

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46578.html Eight Republicans buck party on don t ask repeal By SHIRA TOEPLITZ | 12/18/10 2:24 PM EST Updated:
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 18 2:36 PM

      Eight Republicans buck party on 'don't ask' repeal
      By SHIRA TOEPLITZ | 12/18/10 2:24 PM EST Updated: 12/18/10 5:05 PM EST

      Eight Republicans bucked their party in backing the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy, potentially risking a backlash from the conservative base while giving the historic vote a stronger bipartisan finish than many expected.

      The Republican senators voting “yes” with the Democrats on repeal were Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John Ensign of Nevada, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Voinovich of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine. Burr, Ensign and Kirk were late surprises, bucking their party on the historic vote.

      These Republicans might be considered moderates on several issues, and Voinovich is retiring the Senate, so he doesn't have to worry about electoral repercussions.
      The surprise of the day was Kirk, who was just elected to the Senate.

      “…Republicans voted for it and there are a couple of others who might have voted for it if amendments were allowed,” said a proud Collins, a chief co-sponsor of the bill.

      Two of the Republicans — Brown and Snowe — are up for reelection in 2012.

      “The vote speaks for itself,” Brown told POLITICO, before an aide added that he had explained his position in prior published statements and the elevator doors closed.

      At least one of the Republicans, Kirk, did not indicate beforehand that he would support the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ As late as Thursday, the newly elected GOP senator told reporters that he was undecided and still combing through the long report from the Join Chiefs of Staff on the issue.

      Yet, in a 400-word statement released after the vote, Kirk explained in detail why he voted for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

      “Following their exhaustive and considered military judgment, I support the Joint Chief's recommendation to implement the repeal of the current policy once the battle effectiveness of the forces is certified and proper preparations are complete,” said Kirk. “The legislation before us provides our military leaders with the time they requested to change the policy.”

      Known for his moderate voting record as a congressman from the northern Chicago suburbs, Kirk was elected in the typically Democratic state of Illinois last November and was sworn into the Senate just three weeks ago.

      But since arriving in the Senate three short weeks ago, Kirk has stood firmly with Senate Republicans: He was vocal in his opposition to the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, voted against the defense reauthorization act that including the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and voted against the DREAM Act earlier Saturday.

      Voinovich, who is retiring at the end of this Congress, told reporters that he was “convinced, based on all of the experts who have looked at this, this is something that should be done.”
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