A Democratic lawmaker has postponed a Senate hearing on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” until February after the State of the Union address at the request of administration officials who said President Obama may address the issue during his speech.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Monday during a press conference the Senate hearing would take place in February after DC Agenda asked him whether he could give any details about when lawmakers would hear testimony.
“What I said earlier is that it will either be January or early in February,” Levin said. “I was hoping to be able to announce a date. I cannot announce a date, but it is our intent to begin those hearings in early February.”
According to a transcript of his remarks, Levin told reporters after the press conference he postponed the hearing because top Defense Department officials asked him to wait until after Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday.
Levin said he doesn’t know what Obama will say on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during his speech, but he expects the president will address the administration’s intent on the issue.
Asked by DC Agenda during the press conference whether he would support the inclusion of repeal as part of President Obama’s defense budget request, Levin replied, “I’ve never favored “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
But Levin said if the path to repeal isn’t pursued in a “thoughtful” way, the result could be “exactly the opposite effect of what I hope it takes the change the policy.”
“We got to try to get both the military leaders but also the junior officers, the enlisted personnel … to be able to speak up on this issue because I think a generational shift has taken place,” he said. “We’ve also got to show a sensitivity to the importance of our military moving in the direction, which hopefully they will move, but without just being told that by Congress.”
“Now if the commander-in-chief tells them that that’s his decision, presumably they’re going to say, ‘Yes, sir,’” Levin continued.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen had been set to testify at the hearing originally set for January, but Levin said he wants to hear from junior officers and enlisted personnel and not just top military leaders.
The senator said he suggested to Gates that he conduct a poll within the U.S. military to see if a generational shift on gays in the military has taken place.