July 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Lincoln non-committal on 'Don't Ask' in defense bill

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) on Tuesday said she generally supports the inclusion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in defense budget legislation, but wouldn’t commit to a position on a possible floor amendment that would strip the language from the bill.

In a brief exchange with the Blade on Capitol Hill, Lincoln said she supported the Senate Armed Services Committee’s decision to include the language in the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.

“I supported what the committee does, which basically gives the authority to the [Defense Department] and the military to be able to, you know, either say it does or does not believe that that’s going to be a hindrance to the productivity of the military,” she said.

The Senate Armed Services Committee on May 27 attached an amendment to the defense legislation that would end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” However, the provision would only take effect on the condition that the Pentagon completes its study on the issue first and the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify the military is ready for repeal.

While saying she supported the committee’s move, Lincoln wouldn’t say whether she would support a substitute amendment or a motion to strike with regard to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.

“I don’t know what they’re going to offer,” she said. “Until they offer anything, I don’t think it’s right for me to answer anything like that.”

Lincoln added she wouldn’t support a filibuster of the defense bill as a whole over the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.

A moderate Democrat who’s facing a tough re-election bid this fall to retain her U.S. Senate seat, Lincoln is among the senators whose votes are considered in question when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” comes to the Senate floor. The legislation is expected to come to the full Senate in September.

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

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