February 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Boehner punts on ‘Don’t Ask’ certification bill

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (Blade photo by Michael Key).

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) deferred to House Armed Services Committee on Thursday when asked about his interest in legislation that would complicate efforts in implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

Asked by the Washington Blade whether legislation that would expand the certification requirement for repeal would see a vote in the 112th Congress, Boehner replied, “We’ll see what the committee recommends.”

Under the current repeal law signed by President Obama on Dec. 22, an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will be achieved 60 days after the president, the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that the U.S. military is ready.

Pending legislation before the U.S. House, sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), would expand the certification responsibility to the military service chiefs: the Army chief of staff, the Chief of Naval Operations, the Marine Corps commandant and the Air Force Chief of Staff.

Many of the service chiefs have expressed concern about implementing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, so the expanded certification requirement could delay an end to the military’s gay ban.

However, each of the services have been directed by Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel & Readiness Clifford Stanley to devise a procedure to implement an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said “there is no appetite” for preventing repeal because the mandate that American voters gave the Republican Party in the 2010 election was reigning in spending, reducing the national debt, balancing the budget and enabling job growth.

“There is much to be done this Congress,” he said. “Revisiting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ would be an unnecessary distraction.”

Cooper said the Pentagon wouldn’t support any additional thresholds for certification because the repeal implementation team is already moving forward with implementing open service.

Drew Hammill, spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal law was passed by Congress last year after careful consideration.

“The certification process contained in the bipartisan legislation passed by the Congress and signed by the President has the support of the Department of Defense,” he said. “The repeal law was carefully drafted and contains reasonable requirements for implementation.”

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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