Moments ago, following a pair of meetings with advocates, the White House issued a statement in support of attaching an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would repeal the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy this year but delay implementation until President Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen certify the Pentagon’s review of the policy.
The statement came just hours after Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) — the chief sponsor of repeal legislation in the House — wrote a letter to the administration asking its “input” on an amendment that “put a process in place to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, once the working group has completed its review.” Under the proposal, Congress would repeal the statute this year, but the current military policy would remain in place until officials certified the results of the study. Servicemembers could presumably be discharged under the more lenient guidelines enforcing the ban released by Gates in March. [Read the full letter HERE].
In its response, the administration finally backed what repeal advocates have previously described as the delay-implementation strategy [Read the full letter HERE]:
While ideally the Department of Defense Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of Repeal of 10 U.S.C. § 654 would be completed before the Congress takes any legislative action…the Administration is of the view that the proposed amendment meets the concerns raised by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The proposed amendment will allow for completion of the Comprehensive Review, enable the Department of Defense to assess the results of the review, and ensure that the implementation of the repeal is consistent with standards of military readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruiting and retention. The amendment will also guarantee that the Department of Defense has prepared the necessary policies and regulations needed to successfully implement the repeal…the Administration therefore supports the proposed amendment.
While there appear to be enough votes to pass repeal in the House, advocates are most concerned about attracting the 15 votes needed to attach the amendment to the defense authorization bill in the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is scheduled to begin marking up the measure tomorrow. Votes on both measures have been tentatively scheduled for Thursday.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the third-ranking House Republican, “promised unified GOP opposition to lifting the ban.” “The American people don’t want the American military to be used to advance a liberal political agenda. And House Republicans will stand on that principle,” he said.
Read the legislative text of the amendment HERE:
(c) NO IMMEDIATE EFFECT ON CURRENT POLICY. — Section 654 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect until such time that all of the requirements and certifications required by subsection (b) are met. If these requirements and certifications are not met, section 6546 of title 10, United States Code, shall remain in effect.