Advocates Push Reid on DADT Vote
BY Kerry Eleveld
July 29 2010 11:45 AM ET
As the days dwindle before the congressional August recess commences August 9, “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal advocates are angling for a firm commitment from Senate majority leader Harry Reid for a September vote on the defense authorization bill, to which the repeal measure is attached.
“We are asking of the majority leader the same thing that we believe Senator [Carl] Levin is asking, and that is to schedule the defense authorization bill shortly after the August recess,” said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “We would like him to make that announcement before the Senate leaves town at the end of next week.”
A spokesman for Reid said the majority leader does anticipate a vote being taken in September but declined to give a definite date.
“We expect to have a vote in September,” said Jim Manley.
Alex Nicholson, executive director of the gay veterans group Servicemembers United, said the vote’s timing is at Reid’s discretion and expressed frustration at the delay.
"Senator Reid, in his capacity as the Senate majority leader, has the power to bring the defense authorization bill — with DADT repeal included — to the floor of the Senate for debate and a vote,” Nicholson said. “Senator Reid did not do that in July, despite the fact that Senator Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, confirmed the authorization bill is 100% ready to go.”
The defense funding bill for 2011, formally called the National Defense Authorization Act, is typically considered a must-pass bill every year since it appropriates money for troops, weapons, and overall defense spending. But the bill has several controversial provisions, not least of which is a measure that would allow women serving in the military to receive abortion care at military hospitals if they self-fund the procedure.
Both the White House and Defense secretary Robert Gates have also said President Barack Obama would veto the legislation if it includes funding to build an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Striker Fighter — a provision that is included in the House version of the bill.
In all, three votes are still necessary to send the bill to the president’s desk — the Senate version must be passed by the full chamber, and then after the bills go to conference to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate versions, each chamber will have to pass the final conference report.