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Why Sen. Susan Collins is blocking vote on 'don't ask, don't tell'

Sen. Susan Collins, the moderate Maine Republican who opposes 'don't ask, don't tell,' says the way Democrats are trying to repeal it is 'unfair.'

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Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine talks about the military 'don't ask, don't tell' policy on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday.

Alex Brandon/AP

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Despite a last-minute appeal from pop icon Lady Gaga, two moderate Republican senators said Tuesday morning that they will not break with their party on a key vote that would set the stage for a repeal the Pentagon's "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy.

The Senate was scheduled to vote Tuesday on the $725.7 billion defense authorization bill, which sets annual spending levels for the Pentagon – a process that is particularly crucial in time of war. But the controversy over the current bill is fixed on a bid – tied to the bill's passage – to repeal the President Clinton-era policy that bans openly gay servicemen and women from serving in the military.

Democrats are at least one vote short of the 60 needed to block a GOP filibuster. Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine – the lone Republican to vote to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell in the Senate Armed Services Committee – appeared to be their best prospect.

“It’s the right thing to do. I think it’s only fair" to repeal don't ask, don't tell, said Senator Collins in a floor speech Tuesday. “But I cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that’s going to shut down the debate and preclude Republican amendments. That, too, is not fair.

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