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Pelosi's DADT Intentions "Encouraging"

Pelosi's DADT Intentions "Encouraging"

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Lawmakers in favor of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" voiced their support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's conveyed commitment to getting a full floor vote on the policy by the end of this year.

"The Speaker's support for a vote this year is encouraging, and I will continue to do my part to make sure we've got the support lined up in the House to get this thing over the finish line," said Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, chief sponsor the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would overturn the military's gay ban. The bill has 192 cosponsors and Murphy has indicated repeatedly that he has the votes to pass it.

Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told the DC Agenda Monday, "It is the Speaker's intention that a vote will be taken this year on ['don't ask, don't tell'] in the House."

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin also embraced the statement.

"I hope what I heard from the Speaker is correct -- that the House and Senate will proceed with dispatch," Baldwin said, adding that "there's no need" to wait for the Pentagon's implementation study due in early December.

Baldwin expressed disappointment with the White House for suggesting that Congress shouldn't take action until the report is issued and said she wished President Barack Obama would weigh in.

"He has the most powerful bully pulpit in the world, and I hope he uses it to advance equality," she said.

Many eyes are still trained on what happens in the Senate Armed Services Committee, where Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan is weighing whether to include a repeal measure or a moratorium on discharges in the Department of Defense Authorization bill. The committee is expected to pound out the final details of the Defense funding bill during the week of May 24.

One Democratic leadership aide noted that, regardless of whether the House votes on repeal, "As long as it's included in the Defense authorization somewhere along the line, it's an issue for conference." Conference refers to the process of reconciling similar pieces of legislation passed by the House and Senate. In this case, the separate versions of the Defense authorization bill would be reconciled.

Frustration continues to fester among many members of the House, which has passed over 300 bills that have yet to be taken up by the Senate.

"This has been a very productive House of Representatives," Baldwin said. "A lot of House members are furious about all of the things that we have done that they're sitting on - whether it's Wall Street accountability, climate change and energy policy, for a long time it was health care."

Nonetheless, asked if there was a sense on the Hill that the Senate must move before the House on repealing the gay ban, Baldwin said she thought the House would "go first" on votes for both "don't ask, don't tell" and the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.

She also noted a rare bit of collaboration between the two chambers on repeal.

"Particularly on 'don't ask, don't tell,' there have been strategic discussions already between the House and Senate on how to move that forward because it makes sense to incorporate it as part, ultimately, of the Defense authorization bill," she said.

According to Democratic aides, the offices of Sens. Levin and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Rep. Murphy have been coordinating efforts on repeal language so that any attachments to the Defense funding bill will be similar in nature.
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