November 17, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
BREAKING: Reid commits to ‘Don’t Ask’ vote in lame duck

Sen. Harry Reid (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday announced his commitment to bring legislation to the Senate floor containing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

“During the work period following the Thanksgiving holidays, I will bring the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, including a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Reid said in a statement. “Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces.  We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so.”

In another statement on Wednesday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he welcomes the news from Reid.

“I will work hard to overcome the filibuster so that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is repealed and the [defense authorization bill]  — which is critical to our national security and the well-being of our troops — is adopted,” Levin said.

Levin added he has asked Reid to hold off on the motion to proceed with the bill until December after the Pentagon working group has a chance to complete its study on implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

“I have asked Senator Reid to make his motion to bring up the matter after my committee and the public have received the defense department’s report and following the hearings that I plan to hold on the matter, which should take place during the first few days of December,” Levin said.

Earlier in the evening, advocacy groups working on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” — the Human Rights Campaign, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and the Center for American Progress — issued a joint statement saying they had met with Obama administration officials and Reid staffers on Wednesday evening and received the same commitment about the vote.

“The officials told the groups that Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill to which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is attached – to the floor in the lame duck session after the Thanksgiving recess,” the statement said.

Additionally, the statement says Reid and Obama are opposed to moving forward with the defense authorization bill without the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision. Media reports have circulated that Levin has been in conversations with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) about stripping the defense authorization bill of its “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.

According to statements from both the advocacy groups and the White House, among those present at the meeting were Jim Messina, deputy White House chief of staff; Phil Schiliro; Brian Bond, the LGBT liaison for the White House; and David Krone, Reid’s chief of staff.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said in the statement that the president had previously conveyed the importance of moving forward with the defense authorization bill in a message to Reid.

Details about the procedural conditions for the vote and when it would be scheduled limited on Wednesday evening. The statement from the advocacy groups said Reid’s office would announce these details later.

Unlike in September, when the Senate earlier tried to move forward with the defense authorization bill but failed to meet the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster, Senate leadership isn’t planning to amend the legislation the next time around with the DREAM Act, an immigration-related bill.

Reid has said the legislation will come up as a standalone bill before the Senate at another time during the lame duck session.

The news about the vote comes after the White House issued a statement earlier in the day saying Obama restated his commitment to keeping “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal language in the defense authorization bill in a phone call Wednesday with Levin.

“Today, President Obama called Chairman Levin to reiterate his commitment on keeping the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the National Defense Authorization Act, and the need for the Senate to pass this legislation during the lame duck,” Inouye said in the statement.

In the statement, Inouye added that this conversation with Levin follows “outreach” the president in which the president has engaged with both Democratic and Republican senators on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“The President’s call follows the outreach over the past week by the White House to dozens of Senators from both sides of the aisle on this issue,” Inouye said.

In a follow-up statement to the Blade, Inouye said he couldn’t characterize this outreach any further.

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

6 Comments
  • Finally Reid & Obama are putting some effort into Repealing DADT, and now that the Dream Act provision has been removed from the defense authorization bill the rotten GOP won’t be able to use that as an excuse for voting against repeal. Likewise, with the military’s study report supporting repeal, what can the old fuddy duddy’s like McCain say to justify their bigotry and homophobia now. Of course, this won’t stop the majority of Republican senators from doing the wrong thing, but I hope we can get a handful of them to do the right thing this time, and that goes for the two do-nothing Democrat senators from Arkansas who had the nerve to oppose repeal in the last vote.

  • What they are really afraid of is that the supreme court will rule that DATD violates equal protection. That would open up a whole slew of complaints.

    DADT being ruled unconstitutional would open the sexism, racisim, and religious discrimination in the military to challenge. And the military brass doesn’t like it.

  • Again we squander time on repealing DADT while ENDA remains hostage and in limbo without a chance for any vote! ENDA protects the majority of us in all 50 states stupid while only a fraction of us work for the US military!!!!

    Pelosi said that ending DADT has to be voted on first before ENDA. Okay. it got it’s chance, it was voted on and lost! Let’s move on and allow ENDA it’s opportunity because once the lame duck session is over, ENDA won’t see the light of day again for likely another generation thanks to the mismanagement of the issue by the gay leadership in Congress and organizations like HRC!

    Had you simply just concentrated all our efforts behind ENDA like you did Hate Crimes instead of flooding Congress with everything under the sun, we may have had it voted on and who knows passed?! Instead you push throw too much and in the end only one of those many things can be voted upon at a time since evidently the Dems can’t walk and chew gum at the same time!!! Further, Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin just sat back like idiots and allowed the Dems to Stonewall us on giving ENDA a chance for a vote with healthcare all last year as if the Dems would keep control of Congress forever! You have to strike while the limited opportunity is there. Why are these gay leaders and allies so clueless to that?

  • Why didn’t Harry Reid ever introduce ENDA in the Senate either if Pelosi refused to do it in the House? There is no reason why the Senate can’t vote on something first before the House is there? Now Reid wants to vote on DADT in the Senate when it failed just a month ago? What has changed between then and now that will make any difference?! Give ENDA a parting shot dammit!

  • GET ON THE PHONES NOW!
    NEED THE FACTS NOT LIES OF THE DREAM ACT?—IT’S ANOTHER STEALTH AMNESTY!
    Would you like to know the 10 obnoxious facts about Senator Harry Reid’s DREAM ACT? Not the usual Liberal claptrap that only a proportion of Americans are supposedly to absorb as the truth? Sen. Jeff Sessions put out the following release yesterday on the DREAM Act, that it’s an incremental illegal-alien amnesty bill S.3827. Read Senator Sessions of Alabama statement at:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/253506/and-dream-shall-never-die-mark-krikorian

    Call your Senator or Representative at the Washington Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Demand NO DREAM ACT. It’s really a De-Facto Amnesty as another tax on Americans. Fax Congress for free at http://www.numbersusa.com

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