To be sure, there is still a very small chance that the lame duck Senate will pass the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year, conference it with the House, and then send it to President Obama for his signature. But after the Senate successfully filibustered the measure last week and the three new Senators who could be sworn in after Nov. 2 have not exactly committed to voting for the measure, the chances of ending the ban legislatively are infinitesimal. Alternatively, Obama could sign an executive order or fail to appeal the recent federal district court decision that found the policy unconstitutional — both of which he is not inclined to do.
Yesterday, speaking at a Victory Fund event, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pressured Obama to end the policy before the end of the year, hinting that he should sign an executive order ending discharges. From Washington Blade’s Chris Johnson:
Asked by a reporter whether she’s spoken with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about the Senate taking another shot at “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Pelosi replied, “That will be gone by executive — that will happen with or without Congress.” “I don’t think it has to depend on whether it passes the Senate,” she continued. “The process will work its way through and the president will make his pronouncement.” [...]
Asked whether she would call on Obama to issue an order to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Pelosi replied, “That is the unfolding that we will see.”
“I’m very pleased with the course that the president’s on, but I think that they we shouldn’t be discharging people until that happens — so that, we have a little separation of — in terms of policy on that,” Pelosi said.
Since the filibuster, Democrats have been exploring alternative ways the administration can act to gradually end the policy before the end of the year, with 69 House Democrats urging the Department of Justice not to appeal the court ruling. Yesterday, the Advocate’s Karry Eleveld reported that a “similar Senate letter originating from senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Mark Udall now claims 11 members and counting, according to those familiar with the effort.”
In a Rolling Stone interview published on Tuesday, however, Obama seemed to close the door to alternative routes to ending the policy, insisting that he would pursue an “orderly” repeal. Whether or not he’ll be more willing to act after the Pentagon’s Working Group releases his study in December, remains to be seen.
Kerry Eleveld reports:
White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina met Monday evening with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Carl Levin, to discuss moving the National Defense Authorization Act before the 111th Congress adjourns for the year.
“For the nearly hour-long meeting, a core portion of the discussion was the NDAA and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and bringing them up during lame duck,” said a source familiar with the meeting.