Gillibrand To Propose Spending Freeze For DADT Funding

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) plans to introduce an amendment to the budget that would deny “funding to the military for the costs of pursuing inquiries, dismissal proceedings and other procedures associated with enforcing” ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The NYT’s Caucus blog reports that “Gillibrand has considered such a proposal before but held off because she felt she did not have the 60 votes needed to get the measure through the Senate.” Congress’ new emphasis on freezing wasteful spending and the military’s support for ending the policy could generate votes from more fiscally conservative members. As Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) — who opposes repealing DADT — himself admitted, “I don’t think any agency of the federal government should be exempt from rooting out wasteful spending or unnecessary spending. And I, frankly, I would agree with it at the Pentagon. There’s got to be wasteful spending there, unnecessary spending there.”

Studies have indicated that the cost of discharging and replacing service members fired because of their sexual orientation during the policy’s first 10 years varied from $190.5 million to $363.8 million (if the high cost of training officers and other factors are considered).

Gilibrand’s amendment also suggests that Congress will begin to chisel away at DADT this year without instituting a full repeal. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) has signaled that Congress might adopt a moratorium on discharges but seemed to accept that Congress would have to wait for the Pentagon to finish its review before reversing the policy. Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen have testified that they would need a year to study DADT and then at least another year to implement a new policy.

Still, the Democrats’ timeline for repeal is unclear. On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters that “she’s unsure whether the House will overturn ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year” and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that he would support a moratorium as an interim measure. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that “by this year’s end, we will have eliminated the policy.”

On Thursday Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) appeared on The Michelangelo Signorile Show to argue that Congress should proceed with the repeal before the review is complete. “By the time the bill can be signed by the President, and it’s going to take a bill and it goes through the House and it goes through the Senate and he has to sign it and it will be 6 to 7 months. As quickly as we can do this, it will be by toward the end of the year.” “So Gates has plenty of time to study whatever the hell it is he thinks he has to study,” Frank said.