BY Kerry Eleveld
November 11 2009 7:40 AM ET
Repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” will likely be included as part of next year’s Department of Defense authorization bill in both chambers of Congress, Congressman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, said Wednesday.
“Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill,” Frank said, insisting that this has been the strategy for overturning the policy all along. “'Don’t ask, don’t tell' was always going to be part of the military authorization.”
Frank said he has been in direct communication with the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and other congressional leaders about the strategy for ending the 1993 ban on gays serving openly in the military.
Though some moderate Democrats have recently expressed concern about repealing the policy during a midterm election year, Frank said resolve at the White House has never wavered. “The Administration is totally committed to this and has been from the beginning,” he said.
Anecdotally, Frank recalled an incident earlier this year when Defense secretary Robert Gates made a statement to reporters suggesting that repeal was still an open question.
“There was a point where Gates said, ‘If we repeal don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and the next day he said, 'When we repeal don’t ask, don’t tell,’” said Frank. “That’s because Rahm called him up. The White House has been consistently committed.”
The Defense Department reauthorization bill would be voted on next spring and summer and would take effect October 1, 2010, according to Frank. But he added that discharges could potentially be stopped by executive order before the law goes into effect.
“Once the bill is passed, even if it hasn’t yet taken effect at that point, the president could justify a stop-loss order because it would no longer be the law -- it’s just a matter of time,” Frank explained.