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Gates Acknowledges DADT Repeal Unlikely This Session

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (DoD photo)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking with sailors aboard the USS Lincoln today, said that he didn’t expect Congress to pass a legislative repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell anytime soon, “even though he wishes it would.”

I believe he’s in a position to know.

The original sin here was putting all kinds of weight to a Pentagon study that wouldn’t complete until December 1, 2010. As it turned out, the study offered excellent proof that the policy should be repealed, but the House, for example, didn’t need it to pass repeal by 40 votes. The report just gave key Senators reason to delay any judgment on the policy. Now, the report is released and is an asset to the pro-repeal side, but there’s only two weeks (at most 3) left in the legislative session, a host of other issues in play in the lame duck, and not enough time to meet the objections of Republican moderates.

You could have seen this coming a mile away. Gates only wants repeal to stave off the need to quickly change policy because of a court order. In reality, he was happy with the deliberative process, which ran the risk of dying if Republicans retook either branch of Congress. That’s what has happened, and now at the earliest, Congress won’t revisit this issue until 2013, and maybe earlier than that.

Harry Reid was at least a little more forceful in his remarks on the Senate floor today, saying this:

We’re also going to repeal the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rule. We’re going to match our policy with our principles and finally say that in the United States, everyone who steps up to serve our country should be welcomed.

Republicans know they don’t have the votes to take this repeal out of the Defense Authorization Act, so they’re holding up the whole bill. But when they refuse to debate it, they also hold up a well-deserved raise for our troops, better health care for our troops and their families, equipment like MRAP vehicles that keep our troops safe, and other critical wartime efforts in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts around the world.

Reid – and the President – do have the ability to get this done. But they also caused a lot of this by backing themselves into a corner with the Pentagon report, and not having a credible strategy to finish off the defense authorization bill at any point.

UPDATE: Sam Stein reports that Reid and other top Dems are “supportive” of extending the session a week or so. They can only extend it so long, however: the new Congress comes in on January 4-5. So the never-ending tax debate is the real barrier here.

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Gates Acknowledges DADT Repeal Unlikely This Session

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking with sailors aboard the USS Lincoln today, said that he didn’t expect Congress to pass a legislative repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell anytime soon, “even though he wishes it would.”

I believe he’s in a position to know.

The original sin here was putting all kinds of weight to a Pentagon study that wouldn’t complete until December 1, 2010. As it turned out, the study offered excellent proof that the policy should be repealed, but the House, for example, didn’t need it to pass repeal by 40 votes. The report just gave key Senators reason to delay any judgment on the policy. Now, the report is released and is an asset to the pro-repeal side, but there’s only two weeks (at most 3) left in the legislative session, a host of other issues in play in the lame duck, and not enough time to meet the objections of Republican moderates.

You could have seen this coming a mile away. Gates only wants repeal to stave off the need to quickly change policy because of a court order. In reality, he was happy with the deliberative process, which ran the risk of dying if Republicans retook either branch of Congress. That’s what has happened, and now at the earliest, Congress won’t revisit this issue until 2013, and maybe earlier than that.

Harry Reid was at least a little more forceful in his remarks on the Senate floor today, saying this:

We’re also going to repeal the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rule. We’re going to match our policy with our principles and finally say that in the United States, everyone who steps up to serve our country should be welcomed.

Republicans know they don’t have the votes to take this repeal out of the Defense Authorization Act, so they’re holding up the whole bill. But when they refuse to debate it, they also hold up a well-deserved raise for our troops, better health care for our troops and their families, equipment like MRAP vehicles that keep our troops safe, and other critical wartime efforts in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts around the world.

Reid – and the President – do have the ability to get this done. But they also caused a lot of this by backing themselves into a corner with the Pentagon report, and not having a credible strategy to finish off the defense authorization bill at any point.

UPDATE: Sam Stein reports that Reid and other top Dems are “supportive” of extending the session a week or so. They can only extend it so long, however: the new Congress comes in on January 4-5. So the never-ending tax debate is the real barrier here.

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David Dayen

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