BY Kerry Eleveld
February 02 2010 5:05 PM ET
Republican senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama seemed equally dismayed by the fact that Gates and Mullen were lining up with the president.
president, the commander in chief, has announced a decision, and the secretary of Defense apparently supports that decision; Admiral Mullen
[says] that he personally believes in that decision,” Sessions noted.
But both Gates and Mullen took pains to convey that the investigation does not presuppose any specific outcome.
think the purpose of the examination that we're undertaking, frankly, is
to inform the decision-making of the Congress,” Gates said. “We
obviously recognize that this is up to Congress, and my view is,
frankly, it is critical that this matter be settled by a vote of
The acknowledgment by Gates prompted Sen. Joseph
Lieberman of Connecticut, who supports repeal, to observe that the
Senate “must find 60 votes” to overturn the policy.
Levin, the committee chair, who also supports repeal, then corrected
Lieberman, saying, “Unless there's a provision inside the DOD
authorization bill.” After the hearing, Levin explained that he doubted
60 senators would line up to filibuster the entire Defense funding bill
if repeal language was folded into the bill.
But Levin also told
reporters he thought it was “a more likely prospect” that some sort of
“moratorium” would be placed on discharges using the Defense
authorization bill as a vehicle.
“I haven’t ruled anything out,”
Levin said, referring to full repeal. “Given the direction that the
administration wants to take, given the fact that apparently most of
the American public thinks that the discriminatory policy should end,
assuming the kind of leadership we saw this morning by these two
leaders — I think a moratorium during this period is the minimum that
we should seek.”