White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that President Obama continues to call on Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year and is hopeful that repeal can come about through a free-standing bill.
“The president remains committed to seeing this repeal done before Congress leaves town this year,” he said.
“And I think if we can get the time to do it—57 votes yesterday. Quite frankly, you can see how you can get even more. And I think there could be legislative vehicles that start in the House as a stand-alone [repeal bill] and can withstand procedural hurdles and put the Senate on the record on an up or down vote to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
Gibbs was referring to the 57-40 vote in the Senate Thursday that fell three votes short of breaking a Republican-led filibuster that blocked a defense bill in which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal was a part. Sixty votes are needed to break a filibuster.
Members of the House and Senate supporting repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military responded to the failure to stop the filibuster by introducing a free-standing repeal bill. House and Senate Democratic leaders say they have the procedural authority to move such a bill to the floor of both bodies for a vote without going through the normal committee process. But with the Senate inundated with other important bills that need approval before Congress adjourns later this month, the chance of the Senate having the time to address yet another bill on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” remains uncertain.
“The president has talked to senators on both sides of the aisle on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and the Dream Act” over the past few days,” Gibbs said.”I have not seen a call list today to see if there is an update on his outreach on this. But this is something that is important and something that he is going to continue to work on.”