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House Dems Introduce DADT Repeal

House Dems Introduce DADT Repeal


Updated: A stand-alone "don't ask, don't tell" repeal bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) and cosponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), was introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday. There is currently no timetable for when the legislation will be debated on the House floor. The Murphy bill is identical to the Senate repeal bill introduced Friday by Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

On Monday night the office of House speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a message about moving a stand-alone DADT repeal that said in effect: game on.

"By an overwhelming 40-vote margin, the House voted for the 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal amendment as part of the defense bill in May," Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a statement. "There has always been the possibility of bringing up the repeal as a freestanding bill in the House or Senate. As we come to the end of the session, all options to repeal 'don't ask, don't tell' are now on the table."

House majority leader Steny Hoyer released a statement late Tuesday morning saying that he and Rep. Patrick Murphy, chief sponsor of the original repeal measure, would introduce a stand-alone repeal bill soon -- though many Hill staffers expected it could happen as early as Tuesday afternoon.

"I look forward to bringing this bill to the House floor soon, and I hope the Senate will swiftly take action as well so that the bill can be signed into law as soon as possible," Hoyer said.

Senators Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins, and Mark Udall rushed to introduce stand-alone repeal legislation last week immediately following a failed Senate vote on the defense authorization bill.

Democratic aides say passing the bill in the House and sending it straight over to the Senate as "privileged" legislation would circumvent a number of procedural hurdles and allow the bill to be decided by one up-or-down vote that would require 60 votes for passage.

"The ideal situation is the House passes a stand-alone bill first and sends it over to the Senate," said one Senate aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

But a House Democratic aide said House Democrats still hadn't settled on a final strategy for a stand-alone bill.

"The leadership has not made a decision as to going first with the stand-alone before the Senate," said the House aide, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.

House Democrats were scheduled to hold a leadership meeting later today, so more details will likely flow from that meeting.

The timing of such a bill is also entirely up in the air in the Senate.

The Senate aide said no one knows exactly what Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to schedule following consideration of the tax bill, which is expected to be finalized later today or Wednesday morning at the latest.

"The clock on consideration starts ticking in the Senate once that tax bill is disposed of," said the aide. "The question comes, What will be the first one to go?"

The aide said consideration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is suspected to be next in the queue, based largely on the comments of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs during Monday's briefing. [UPDATE: A Senate Democratic leadership aide tells The Advocate that START and/or a Continuing Resolution "may" come next after taxes. He adds that Reid is still committed to taking a vote on the stand-alone repeal bill: "He still plans on taking a stand-alone bill to the floor -- but we are going to need Republican votes."]

"Fairly soon after [tax cuts], the Senate will move to the debate on START ratification," Gibbs told reporters.

But the Senate aide said no one is clear exactly what the majority leader will prioritize or what the White House is pushing for, which could include START, a Continuing Resolution to fund the government that must be acted on by December 17, the DREAM Act, "don't ask, don't tell" repeal, or a stripped-down version of the defense authorization bill that might drop the most controversial provisions. Some people familiar with the negotiations believe passing the stripped-down defense bill first could remove the vast majority of objections to moving on the stand-alone repeal measure, especially since the tax bill will also be completed.

During Monday's briefing Gibbs also pushed back against the notion that it's distinctly possible repeal efforts could fail this year.

"I think it's a distinct possibility 'don't ask, don't tell' will be repealed by the end of this year, and that's where our efforts will be," he said.

While questions of timing continue to predominate when it comes to bills and votes, everyone -- including White House aides and staffers in the Senate and House -- foresees Congress working through the weekend and potentially into next week.

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