December 14, 2010 at 11:26 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Murphy introduces new ‘Don’t Ask’ legislation

Rep. Patrick Murphy on Tuesday introduced new "Don't Ask" repeal legislation (Blade photo by Michael Key).

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) today introduced new “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation in the U.S. House that, according to one repeal advocate, could see a vote as soon as Wednesday.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said the introduction of the bill is part of a plan concocted by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) to pass repeal before time expires in the lame duck session of Congress.

In a statement, Sarvis said House leadership intends to have a vote on repeal in the House on Wednesday and to send the legislation to the Senate as a “privileged” bill.

Having the vote first in the House and sending the bill to the Senate as “privileged” legislation would allow the Senate would be able to take up the measure without having a cloture vote on the motion to proceed. Still, the Senate would need 60 votes to proceed to final passage of the legislation.

“This ‘privileged’ House bill will need to pass the full House and then move to the Senate,” Sarvis said. “While we avoid a cloture vote to proceed and save time on the Senate floor, we’ll still need 60 votes to complete the bill and send it directly to the President’s desk. Repeal supporters need to contact their House member to vote for repeal tomorrow.”

Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, confirmed that the vote would take place on Wednesday, although he said he couldn’t offer a time for when the vote would take place.

In a statement, Murphy said the time to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has come and he’s “insulted” by those who say the U.S. military can’t handle open service when foreign nations such as Isreal and the United Kingdom “allow their troops to serve openly with no detriment to unit cohesion.”

“I’m proud to stand with the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the majority of servicemembers and the American public who all support repeal of this discriminatory policy that harms our national security and military readiness,” Murphy said.

In the Senate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) introduced companion repeal legislation last week after the chamber failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to move forward with major defense budget legislation containing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” language.

Like the legislation introduced by Lieberman, Murphy’s bill is identical to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision that’s currently in the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill.

Language in the both the House and Senate bill state that repeal wouldn’t take effect until the president, the defense secretary and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that the U.S. military is ready to implement open service.

Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United, praised Murphy for introducing the legislation in the House.

“The swift introduction of an identical repeal bill in the House shows that continued efforts to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ this year are still very much alive and the process is moving forward,” Nicholson said. “We are especially grateful to Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, and Congressman Murphy for their commitment to drive on despite temporary setbacks in the Senate.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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