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Administration Doesn’t List DADT Repeal As A ‘Priority’ In Lame Duck Congress

For the second day in a row, President Obama and administration officials failed to commit to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the lame duck session of the Senate, which many advocates believe is the best chance for lifting the ban this year. Before the election, Obama had told AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay and other progressive bloggers that he had a strategy and would be personally involved in ending the ban once the Senate reconvenes later this month. During his press conference yesterday, Obama only said that the Senate would “potentially” take up the measure.

This morning, Obama didn’t mention the policy at all. Speaking to reporters following his cabinet meeting, the President announced that he would invite Congressional leaders to the White House discuss “what we need to get done during the lame duck session” and only identified extending the Bush tax cuts for middle class Americans “a whole range of other economic issues,” and foreign policy concerns like ratifying the START treaty, as priorities. This afternoon, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had another opportunity to address the pressure the Senate to take-up the DADT policy, but he too refused:

QUESTION: You mentioned this morning, and the President mentioned this morning that taxes will be one of the major priorities during the lame-duck session. What other priorities would you list in the next couple of months?

GIBBS: The president listed this, and I think this is very important that is, ratifying the new reductions in our nuclear arsenal with Russia by approving the START treaty. […]

I think there are some other pieces of legislation that are close that we didn’t finish at the end, things like child nutrition, which is obviously a huge priority for the First Lady and there’s no doubt we want to get our budget director confirmed. Our fiscal situation is something that this administration, the fiscal commission, and Congress will spend a lot of time on. It makes sense to have a budget director in order to do that.

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LGBT advocates are still calling on Reid to bring the National Defense Authorization Act — in which the DADT repeal amendment is housed — to the floor as soon as the Senate reconvenes later this month.

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Yesterday, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), the incoming Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Republicans would not include “social agenda items” in future defense authorization measures. This is despite the fact that the 1993 ban was originally attached to just such a defense authorization bill.

Update:

Metro Weekly’s Chris Geidner catches up with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network spokesman Trevor Thomas who tells him that “The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin [(D-Mich.)], is actively pushing to get the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) taken up.

“In fact, Chairman Levin is working on that right now with the Senate Majority Leader [Harry Reid (D-Nev.)] and reaching out to key Republican senators for a bi-partisan approach in the lame duck,” he wrote. “We have seen a significant amount of data that speaks to voter dissatisfaction with incumbents regarding the economy and government spending.”