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DADT Repeal Isn't Law Yet, But Republicans Are Already Trying to Repeal It

December 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

President Obama is scheduled to sign the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act into law on Wednesday morning. But that’s not stopping supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in Congress from strategizing on how to kill the repeal and maintain the U.S. code barring gay men and women from serving openly in the military. According to the New York Times’ Caucus blog, supporters of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are already working to amend the repeal bill by adding poison-pill amendments to other “must-pass” bills:

Republicans in the Senate have filed an amendment to a sweeping defense authorization bill that would require the four military service chiefs to be part of the certification process called for in the bill that repeals the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

That would put Marine Corps chief General James Amos, a vocal opponent of the repeal, in line to delay or potentially prevent its implementation. The amendment was filed late Tuesday to the defense measure, which could be voted on in the Senate on Wednesday.

Advocates of repeal scrambled late Tuesday night to assess the potential impact of the amendment and to prevent its inclusion in the otherwise uncontroversial military spending bill. A senior Democratic aide in the Senate said “this would be a poison pill for DADT repeal.”

The repeal of the ban on open service in the military by gay people requires that the president, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, certify that the repeal can be carried out without affecting readiness.

The amendment under consideration would add to that list the four service chiefs, including Mr. Amos.

The amendment is being proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R, KY].

The Defense Authorization bill that McConnell trying to add the amendment to used to contain the DADT repeal language. Now that DADT repeal has been done separately, it doesn’t. Passing the bill is considered essential. Congress has passed their annual Defense authorizations bills every year for the past 48 years, and not doing so would mean that the military would operate for the next year without guidelines or objectives from Congress, which, unless you think DoD is far superior as an institution to Congress, is not an ideal situation during war time.

Senate Democrats tried to move the bill on Tuesday night, but McConnell would not agree to an unanimous consent agreement without being given a vote on his amendment. The Democrats are going to try again to reach unanimous consent on Wednesday morning, but there’s no word yet that McConnell is going to back down on his DADT amendment.

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