Democrats to push for end of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ now

November 19, 2010

By Seth McLaughlin-The Washington Times

The push to end the policy barring openly gay men and women from serving in the military has new life on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have announced plans to push forward with their efforts despite opposition from most Republicans.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, told reporters Thursday that the repeal effort and the policy’s “injustice” was “alive and well,” and Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada vowed to hold vote on the proposal before the end of the lame-duck session, which could run into December.

“Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces,” Mr. Reid said. “We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so.”

Mr. Reid wants to attach the repeal onto the Defense Authorization Act, the blueprint for military spending. He told reporters that his proposed repeal would only go into effect after the Pentagon finishes a review of repeal implications and after President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ensure it will not hurt the military’s readiness.

All three men support the repeal. That report is scheduled to be released Dec. 1.

Republicans, however, say time is running out on the 111th Congress and that any repeal likely will be crowded out other business, ranging from the proposed extension of the Bush-era tax cuts to spending bills that must be dealt with in order to keep the federal government operating beyond Dec. 3.

Donald Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, also suggested that proponents of the plan likely would not have the votes needed to shepherd the bill forward.

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