The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld reports:
A top White House official issued a statement Monday evening saying the administration does not approve of any attempt to remove “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal from the Defense funding bill to which it is currently attached.
“The White House opposes any effort to strip 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' from the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director.Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Defense Secretary Robert Gates appears to be breaking from his position that a vote on repeal should wait until after the results of the Pentagon Working Group's study on the impact of getting rid of the discriminatory policy that a majority of Americans believe should go. Eleveld continues:
While traveling in Australia over the weekend, Defense secretary Robert Gates urged Congress to pass the bill with the repeal measure before the end of the year.Back in Washington, Harry Reid continues to be a pimple on the ass of progress, blaming his failure to lead on the Republican minority.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, called the remarks “extraordinary” since Gates has consistently asked lawmakers to wait until the Defense Department’s study of repeal is issued.
“This is the first time Secretary Gates has been on the record and calling for passage before the Pentagon working group report comes out,” Sarvis said. “I think the secretary is generally aware of the recommendations that are going to be coming from General [Carter] Ham and the working group.”
A spokesman for Senate majority leader Harry Reid echoed Gates’s comments Monday, saying Reid “strongly supports” repeal but adding that Senate Republicans stood in the way of progress. Democrats failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to advance the defense bill to debate in September after Republicans mounted a successful filibuster.Alex Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United told the Advocate, "Senate majority leader Reid's office is simply ignoring the well-established fact that we indeed do have the votes to proceed on defense authorization, including Republican votes, if he would just bring the bill up under normal procedural conditions. If he firmly believes the Senate should have this debate this year, then he will bring the bill back up next week and allow us to move forward on NDAA and DADT repeal.”
“The senator needs Republicans to at least agree to have a debate on this issue — a debate he firmly believes the Senate should have,” said Jim Manley. “It's unfortunate that Senator McCain — who previously expressed support for the repeal of this law — and other Senate Republicans are ignoring the advice of our military leaders to reverse this discriminatory policy that not only harms our men and women in uniform, but also our national security.”