WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced late Wednesday that he will bring the Defense Authorization bill containing the provision for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the Senate floor for a vote before the scheduled Congressional adjournment in early December.
“During the work period following the Thanksgiving holidays, I will bring the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, including a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Reid said in a statement.
“Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces. We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so.”
The Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Center for American Progress, issued a joint statement saying they had met with Obama administration officials and Reid staffers Wednesday evening and received the same commitment about the vote, reports the Washington Blade.
“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,” the statement said.
Additionally, the statement says Reid and President Obama are opposed to moving forward with the defense authorization bill without the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision.
Media reports circulated earlier this month that Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has been in conversations with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) about stripping the defense authorization bill of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.
White House Director Of Specialty Media Relations, Shin Inouye, confirmed that representatives from LGBT advocacy groups had met with Jim Messina, deputy White House chief of staff; Phil Schiliro; Brian Bond, the LGBT liaison for the White House; and David Krone, Senate Majority Leader Reid’s chief of staff.
In an e-mail to MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner earlier Wednesday afternoon, Inoyue confirmed that Obama had spoken today with Levin about the provision’s inclusion in the defense bill, expressing his concerns that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” not be stripped from the legislation.
Inoyue later released the following statement to reporters:
“Today, President Obama called Chairman Levin to reiterate his commitment on keeping the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the National Defense Authorization Act, and the need for the Senate to pass this legislation during the lame duck. The President’s call follows the outreach over the past week by the White House to dozens of Senators from both sides of the aisle on this issue.”
In the morning press gaggle, White Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told the Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld:
“The president believes that this can be done in a way, and it should be done as you heard Secretary Gates and others say, in the next few weeks. We ought to keep [repeal] in the defense authorization bill; we ought to pass this in the defense authorization bill. And we ought to end a policy that the courts are rapidly getting close to ending on a timetable that [some] might not find as much to their liking.”