Well, I'll say this for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the only Orthodox Jew in the Senate: he lives up to his party label as “independent.”
Just when it looked like he was just a hair's breadth from being a conservative Republican, he led the charge to repeal the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, which passed both Houses of Congress over the weekend.
This despite the fact that his best buddy and the guy he supported for the presidency in 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was possibly the most vociferous critic of repeal.
Time Magazine reports that the vote “could not have happened without the senior Senator from Connecticut. It was Lieberman who rallied the Republicans needed to clear the 60 vote threshold, working particularly hard to win and keep his close friend Susan Collins of Maine.”
JTA reports that “A number of gay activists noted in blogs that Lieberman, who is Orthodox, thought the measure important enough to devote the Sabbath to shepherding it through.”
Jewish groups including NCJW, the Reform movement, the ADL and JCPA fought hard for repeal.
More than 13,000 troops have been discharged under the policy, according to the Washington Post - which seems like pretty poor policy, given the longest period of multi-front warfare in our nation's history.
Meanwhile, an equally long list of Jewish groups were disappointed – but not particularly surprised, I assume – by the failure of a Senate cloture vote that would have paved the way for passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. That measure would have provided a path to legal status for the children of illegal immigrants if they were brought to this country more than five years ago – and if they continue from high school to college or military service.
Gideon Aronoff, president and CEO of HIAS, had this to say: “By defeating today’s cloture vote, Congress has failed an entire generation of undocumented immigrant youth who only want to contribute to this country by becoming citizens.”
If immigration reform advocates thought even tentative moves toward immigration reform were hard in the current Congress, just wait until January, when the GOP takes over the House – and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), one of the most vocal opponents of anything resembling legalization, takes over the key House immigration subcommittee.
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