CommunityFDL Main Blog

DADT Deal Discussed At White House

graphic: umpqua via Flickr

A deal is emerging on repealing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy for gay service members which would legislatively end the policy but delay implementation until the completion of a Pentagon study. Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate, who has had the best coverage of this matter, reports:

The Advocate has learned that concurrent meetings took place Monday morning at the White House and on Capitol Hill that could help clear the way for “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal to be attached to the Department of Defense authorization bill later this week.

According to one person familiar with the White House meeting, the proposal that is being considered would legislatively repeal the statute this year, but the current policy would remain in place and implementation of repeal would not occur until after the Pentagon’s working group study is finished in December. Further, completion of repeal would require certification from President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs chair Adm. Mike Mullen that the new law will not have a negative impact on readiness, recruitment, retention, and other key factors affecting the military.

The language would not include a nondiscrimination policy but rather will return authority for open service by gays and lesbians to the Pentagon.

A Statement of Administration Policy is expected to be released this week, potentially as early as tomorrow.

Advocacy groups appear to be pleased with the agreement, though one could obviously see pitfalls. A Pentagon ruled by those with a different ideological perspective could overturn the new open service policy, if they have the authority to do so. But this would be arguably less likely (or at least as likely) than a future Republican Congress, which would probably waste no time attempting to ban openly gay service. Once the new policy is in place, new restrictions become a harder sell.

All of this is apparently predicated on getting the necessary votes in the Senate Armed Services Committee (Three of these five swing votes – Robert Byrd, Bill Nelson, Evan Bayh, Jim Webb, Scott Brown – would be necessary for passage). If that is handled, then the House would adopt similar language, probably through an amendment to the defense authorization bill which the House Armed Services Committee completed work on last week. Once repeal is embedded in the defense authorization bill, it would take 60 votes in the Senate to remove it, and opponents don’t have that.

It’s puzzling that it took this long for a deal like this to be struck. This is basically what Carl Levin has been offering for months – repeal with a delayed implementation. Perhaps the White House realized the damage they would incur if they did not push repeal after announcing it with great fanfare in the State of the Union address.

The other complicating factor here is that Robert Gates has recommended a veto of this defense bill for totally different reasons. He feels that it consists of too many unwanted military spending projects. It’s unclear how the President would handle the delicate topic of vetoing a bill with a major gay rights initiative and explaining that there were different reasons for the veto.

CommunityThe Bullpen

DADT Deal Discussed at White House

A deal is emerging on repealing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy for gay service members which would legislatively end the policy but delay implementation until the completion of a Pentagon study. Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate, who has had the best coverage of this matter, reports:

The Advocate has learned that concurrent meetings took place Monday morning at the White House and on Capitol Hill that could help clear the way for “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal to be attached to the Department of Defense authorization bill later this week.

According to one person familiar with the White House meeting, the proposal that is being considered would legislatively repeal the statute this year, but the current policy would remain in place and implementation of repeal would not occur until after the Pentagon’s working group study is finished in December. Further, completion of repeal would require certification from President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs chair Adm. Mike Mullen that the new law will not have a negative impact on readiness, recruitment, retention, and other key factors affecting the military.

The language would not include a nondiscrimination policy but rather will return authority for open service by gays and lesbians to the Pentagon.

A Statement of Administration Policy is expected to be released this week, potentially as early as tomorrow.

Advocacy groups appear to be pleased with the agreement, though one could obviously see pitfalls. A Pentagon ruled by those with a different ideological perspective could overturn the new open service policy, if they have the authority to do so. But this would be arguably less likely (or at least as likely) than a future Republican Congress, which would probably waste no time attempting to ban openly gay service. Once the new policy is in place, new restrictions become a harder sell.

All of this is apparently predicated on getting the necessary votes in the Senate Armed Services Committee (Three of these five swing votes – Robert Byrd, Bill Nelson, Evan Bayh, Jim Webb, Scott Brown – would be necessary for passage). If that is handled, then the House would adopt similar language, probably through an amendment to the defense authorization bill which the House Armed Services Committee completed work on last week. Once repeal is embedded in the defense authorization bill, it would take 60 votes in the Senate to remove it, and opponents don’t have that.

It’s puzzling that it took this long for a deal like this to be struck. This is basically what Carl Levin has been offering for months – repeal with a delayed implementation. Perhaps the White House realized the damage they would incur if they did not push repeal after announcing it with great fanfare in the State of the Union address.

The other complicating factor here is that Robert Gates has recommended a veto of this defense bill for totally different reasons. He feels that it consists of too many unwanted military spending projects. It’s unclear how the President would handle the delicate topic of vetoing a bill with a major gay rights initiative and explaining that there were different reasons for the veto.

UPDATE: Robert Gates could issue support for this deal as soon as today, according to CNN’s Dana Bash.

Previous post

Decision Time on DADT: Deal in the Works?

Next post

Germany to boost spending €10 billion yearly, 2011-2016

David Dayen

David Dayen