Reid Commits to DADT Vote



Representatives for Democratic majority leader Harry Reid and top White House officials committed to bringing “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal to a vote as part of the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year at a meeting Wednesday evening with stakeholder groups.

“The officials told the groups that Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the National Defense Authorization Act — the bill to which 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' repeal is attached — to the floor in the lame-duck session after the Thanksgiving recess,” read a joint statement from the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and the Center for American Progress, which all had a presence at the meeting.

The White House aides present at the negotiations included deputy chief of staff Jim Messina and director of legislative affairs Phil Schiliro as well as Chris Kang, special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, and Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Majority leader Reid was represented by his chief of staff, David Krone, and his senior counsel, Serena Hoy.

Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he had asked the majority leader to take up the bill after the Pentagon issues its report and following hearings he plans to hold on the matter, “which should take place during the first few days of December.” 

"I will work hard to overcome the filibuster so that 'don’t ask, don’t tell' is repealed and the NDAA --- which is critical to our national security and the well-being of our troops --- is adopted," he said.

When Republicans mounted their successful filibuster against debating the NDAA in September, Sen. Reid planned to include a vote on attaching the DREAM Act, a measure that would provide undocumented students brought to the United States as minors with a path to citizenship through higher education or military service.

But this time around, Reid plans to offer the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill rather than as an amendment to the defense bill.

“Last time we sought to bring up [the DREAM Act], all Republicans blocked our effort, even though many have been supporters of the DREAM Act in the past," Reid said in a statement. "I hope that our Republican colleagues will join me, Sen. Durbin and Democrats in passing this important piece of legislation, now that we have a stand-alone version and that the political season is over.”

Republicans had also objected to the amendment structure Reid set up for the September vote on the NDAA, complaining that they would not be given a fair shake at adding their own amendments once it reached the Senate floor for debate.

Some Democratic senators are now urging a more open amendment process for this vote.

“If the sticking point is that the Republicans want an opportunity to offer amendments and they feel like they weren’t given that opportunity before the election, I have no problem with a more open amendment process,” Colorado senator Mark Udall, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Advocate earlier this week.

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