Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the incoming Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee isn’t taking any advice from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who yesterday suggested that Republicans “ease up a little bit” on social issues like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and “accomplish it now.” In a statement released yesterday, McKeon said, “Republicans on both sides of the Capitol aisle are committed to passing a National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 that is not weighed down by the current majority’s social agenda items,” a reference to the DADT compromise amendment offered by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA).
In a separate interview with Reuters, McKeon spoke out directly against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
REUTERS: President Obama said in his news conference he may push for a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, ‘Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session of Congress. What are your feelings on this?
MCKEON: I think that’s unwise. You know, we had a process in place. We have a study that has been undertaken. People have been hired, they have done a lot of interviews. I have not seen the study yet. It was supposed to come back in December. Now, I really would like to see that before any effort is made to push this thing through. I think that something as disruptive as that could potentially be in the military, and figuring all of these people that have lost their elections that would be making that kind of a decision, I just think that’s not a wise (move)… Because I think the only reason they’re trying to do it is political. And I don’t think the military should be used as a political football.”
Indeed, if Democrats don’t pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — in which an amendment to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is housed — in this lame duck session, they won’t have another opportunity to use that legislation as a vehicle for repeal in the new Congress.
During a conference call yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he would try to move the bill once the Senate comes back to session later this month. “The problem we have with a defense authorization bill is that it takes a while to get it done,” he said. “If we could get some agreement from the Republicans that we could move the bill without a lot of extraneous amendments, I think it is something we can work out. Time agreements on a few amendments, that would be my goal.”