White House Says DADT Is Not Dead
BY Kerry Eleveld
December 07 2010 9:15 AM ET
White House officials pushed back Monday on the notion that “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal is dead for the year.
“The White House remains fully committed to passage of the NDAA, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, during the lame duck,” said White House spokesperson Shin Inouye. “This is a priority for the President, and are we confident that the Congress will be able to address this issue this year.”
From the Senate floor, majority leader Harry Reid said Democrats would repeal the law before the end of the year, but also acknowledged that a filibuster threat still looms over the legislation.
“We’re also going to repeal the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rule,” Reid said. “Republicans know they don’t have the votes to take this repeal out of the Defense Authorization Act, so they’re holding up the whole bill. But when they refuse to debate it, they also hold up a well-deserved raise for our troops, better health care for our troops and their families, equipment like MRAP vehicles that keep our troops safe, and other critical wartime efforts in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts around the world.”
Reid added that he hoped during the final weeks of this year Republicans would come to the conclusion that “we all have much more to gain by working together than working against each other.”
But over the weekend, the majority leader said the Senate was aiming to adjourn for the year on December 17, less than two weeks away. Since fully debating the defense authorization usually requires two weeks and this week’s floor schedule leaves no time for the bill, Republicans and Democrats would have to agree to an abbreviated amendment and debate schedule that would likely take no more than five days. Additionally, the majority leader and the Democratic caucus would have to keep the Senate in session past December 17 – a sacrifice that some in the Democratic caucus are already urging.
A spokesperson for Sen. Joe Lieberman reiterated the senator’s confidence that the 60 votes to beat a filibuster exist and disparaged the idea of adjourning without taking action on the defense bill.
“Wanting to go home is not an acceptable excuse for failing to pass a bill that provides essential support for our troops and veterans and failing to take action that the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have called for,” said Marshall Wittmann.
Lieberman told The Advocate last Friday that his ongoing discussions with GOP colleagues had convinced him that the votes were there “so long as a core group of Republicans are convinced that the Democratic leadership will not jam the bill through” without a reasonable amount of time for debate.
“I think that, for instance, if we spent five solid days on this bill – and we came in at 9 in the morning and we worked until 7 at night, I think it would be hard for anybody to say at the end of that week that we hadn’t had opportunity for a good thorough debate,” he said. “We have a week here if we want to do it.”
Democratic senator Mark Udall called on his colleagues Monday to work through the holidays in order to complete key bills on issues such as tax cuts and the defense authorization bill with the repeal provision attached.
“I’m willing to stay through Christmas and New Year’s, if that’s what it takes,” Udall said in a statement sent to reporters.
But to date, discussions have yielded no agreement between the two parties, and if the vote is scheduled without an agreement, it will suffer the same fate it did in September.