Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) last week expressed unease about language in pending defense budget legislation that would lead to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and said he would consider supporting measures to stop the Senate from passing the provision.
In a brief exchange on Capitol Hill, Ensign told the Blade he shared the views of the military service chiefs, who, prior to earlier congressional action this year on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” wrote to lawmakers to express concern about the action they were taking.
“The problem is you can’t go out and say to the military chiefs, ‘We’re going to survey you and see what you all think,’ and then you pass the bill to repeal it,” Ensign said. “So the study should come first and then you can talk about the repeal or not of [‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’]. So, yes, it is a concern simply because the study’s not done.”
In May, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment making repeal language part of the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill and reported the legislation to the floor. The full Senate is expected to take up the measure in September.
Asked whether he would support a substitute amendment or a motion to strike with respect to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language, Ensign replied, “We’ll see.”
“First of all, we’re not going to do the bill right now,” he said. “We’ll see whether we do it before we leave in October or after we leave.”
Ensign also said he wouldn’t rule out supporting a filibuster of the defense legislation as a whole when the legislation comes to the floor.
“There’s other problems in the bill as well, so I don’t know,” he said. “We’re just going to have to wait and see [under] what conditions the bill is brought up and if they keep the language in there.”
The senator said he couldn’t recall what other aspects of the bill he considered problematic, but maintained “there were several other problems.”
Ensign is among the senators the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network are working to influence to come out in favor of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal as part of their “Countdown 2010” initiative, according to HRC.