October 28, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Servicemembers United outlines path for ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal

The head of a gay veterans group estimates that Congress has between a 50 or 60 percent chance of legislatively ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year, but only if the Senate takes up a repeal measure before breaking for Thanksgiving recess.

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, made public a video Thursday emphasizing the importance of bringing to the Senate floor no later than Nov. 22 the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill — legislation to which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language is passed.

“What happens if the defense authorization bill isn’t brought before the Senate recesses for Thanksgiving?” Nicholson says. “Well, it’s possible in theory to still get it done, but the chances go down from about 50 or 60 percent to about five or six percent.”

Nicholson estimates that debating and voting on the defense authorization bill could take about two weeks and another two weeks would be needed for the House and the Senate to conference the legislation. Therefore, bringing up the bill in November is necessary for having enough time to complete legislative work on the bill.

In September, the Senate failed to invoke cloture on moving forward with the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill. A unified GOP — along with Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) — voted against the motion to proceed.

Still, Nicholson dismisses speculation that the opportunity for legislative repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year has passed and maintains “there still is a path to get this done this year.”

“It’s a narrow path, it’s a delicate path,” he says. “But don’t let anyone tell you that the path does not exist because it certainly does. It’s just going to take a little patience to understand it and a lot of work and pressure on the right people to get this done.”

For the bill to have new life, Nicholson says pressure is needed on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to schedule the legislation for vote, on the White House to whip the votes necessary for repeal and on moderate Republicans to switch their votes from September to support moving the legislation to the Senate floor.

Watch the video here:

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • From what I’ve heard there are two senate seats (W VA and another), where the senator is a fill -in for a senator who died, and another one who apparently resigned, don’t remember details.

    And their seats go to the elected senator immediately after the election. given the 50-50 chance that the taliban will win one of htese seats, it doen’st look good. And lets not forget that their repub party eats its own young literally, like the SS did in Nazi Germany – say seig heil or else, as well as the party decides who are on the key committees that really control legislation.

    Lets not hold our breath on this one. Its almsot Friday. I’m spending almost all my time through tuesday volunteering for a good Dem who is livid over the existance of DADT. Will you all please go out and find a few good candidates, and help them win.

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