Moments ago, responding to reports that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Member Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) were considering slimming down the bill to ensure that it passes in the lame duck period, the White House issued a statement clarifying that it opposes any attempt to strip Don’t Ask Don’t Tell from the Defense Authorization bill. From White House communications director David Pfeiffer:
“The White House opposes any effort to strip ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ from the National Defense Authorization Act.”
Advocates of repeal insist that the Senate stands the best chance of passing the measure if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduces the defense bill in the first week of session. Earlier today, Reid’s spokesperson Jim Manley said “Senator Reid strongly supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” but stipulated that he “needs Republicans to at least agree to have a debate on this issue — a debate he firmly believes the Senate should have.”
On Sunday, The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld had reported that “a person close to the process” said Levin “is looking into a deal with Sec. Gates that would cut ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ out of the Defense bill in order to smooth its way to passage.” “Levin is making calls under the premise — we can’t afford to waste time on a controversial provision, so we’ll strip out the controversial provision and be able to get the bill on and off the floor in the available amount of time,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Kerry Eleveld adds:
Reid has already left the NDAA out of his line up of three bills to be considered during the week of Nov. 15, meaning consideration of the legislation wouldn’t come up, if at all, until Senators return from the Thanksgiving holiday on Nov 29. Reid has also set a target date of Dec. 10 to adjourn for the year, which would leave just two weeks to complete the Defense bill — a near impossibility since debate usually takes two weeks and reconciling the House and Senate versions of the bill often takes another two weeks.