The top Democratic and Republican senators on the Armed Services Committee are set to strip repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy from the National Defense Authorization Act, according to two news reports.
“Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, are in talks on stripping the proposed repeal and other controversial provisions from a broader defense bill, leaving the repeal with no legislative vehicle to carry it,” wrote The Wall Street Journal‘s Laura Meckler.
“A spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, who opposes the repeal, confirmed he is in talks with Mr. Levin on how to proceed on the defense bill but didn’t provide details.”
A source close to Sen. Carl Levin told the Advocate that the chairman of the Armed Services Committee was considering a deal with Defense Secretary Robert Gates that would remove the repeal from the bill.
“Levin is making calls under the premise – we can’t afford to waste time on a controversial provision, so we’ll strip out the controversial provision and be able to get the bill on and off the floor in the available amount of time,” the anonymous source said.
Gates indicated Saturday that he would like to see the ban repealed before Republicans take control of the House next year. “I would like to see the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ but I’m not sure what the prospects for that are,” Gates said while traveling in Australia.
Also speaking on Saturday, Gen. James Amos, commandant of the U.S. Marines Corps, said this is the wrong time to repeal the controversial policy.
“There’s risk involved,” Amos said. “This is not a social thing. This is combat effectiveness. That’s what the country pays its Marines to do.”
President Barack Obama was applauded by gay rights activists for promising to work with Congress to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in his 2009 State of the Union address.
In a talk with progressive bloggers before the midterm elections, Obama said there was a plan to repeal the ban in the lame duck session. “I’m not going to tip my hand now. But there is a strategy,” he said.
But former adviser on gay rights to President Bill Clinton Richard Socarides said it was “extremely unrealistic” that Congress would take it up in the lame duck session.
“This is another in a long series of cases where Democrats are capitulating to the Republicans,” the Advocate‘s source said.