The U.S. House voted on Friday in favor of a measure withholding funds for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal training for military chaplains as part of major Pentagon spending legislation.
Lawmakers approved the measure, which was introduced by Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas), by a vote of 236-184 as part of the fiscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill. The amendment states, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement the curriculum of the Chaplain Corps Tier 1 DADT repeal training dated April 11, 2011.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Huelskamp offered the amendment without first having read the repeal guidance offered to chaplains. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a gay lawmaker, asked Huelskamp on the House floor whether he had looked over the guidance before offering the amendment.
“We tried to obtain a copy of that from the Department of Defense today and they refused to provide a copy,” Huelskamp reportedly replied. “What I do have is an online three-page summary of the manual.”
In response, Polis said, “I think that the straight answer is no. In fact, our ranking member and others have been unable to get that from the Navy Liaison’s Office.”
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, lambasted lawmakers in statement for adopting the anti-gay amendment as part of the defense spending bill.
“In their continued zeal to interfere with the repeal of ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] and micromanage the Defense Department, House Republicans have reached a new low by voting to strip funds for trainings that they have not even read,” Solmonese said. “By all reports, training for ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] repeal has been proceeding smoothly and the memorandum that they have found so concerning has been withdrawn.”
Nine Democrats voted in favor of the measure: Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Dan Boren (D-Okla.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Mike Ross (D-Ark.).
Additionally, nine Republicans voted against the amendment on the floor: Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.), Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Partick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
On Thursday, the House also approved by a vote of 248-175 an amendment to the defense appropriations bill stating that no Pentagon funds could be used in contravention to the Defense of Marriage Act. The amendment was offered by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.).
Both amendments come on the heels of guidance the Navy issued in April stating military facilities could be used for same-sex marriages in states where it’s legal and chaplains could officiate over these ceremonies, if they so chose, in their official capacities. The Navy has since rescinded this guidance and said further review is necessary.
The defense appropriations bill is different from the defense authorization bill, which was earlier approved by the House. An authorization bill permits the appropriations of funds for a department, but doesn’t allow the department to cut a check or enter into a contract. An appropriations bill, however, confers budget authority on federal agencies to incur obligations.
The House version of the defense authorization bill contains a similar measure reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act as well as other anti-gay measures. The Senate Armed Services Committee, however, left out these provisions in its version of the legislation.