In Kerry Eleveld’s weekly column, she reported the revelation that Senator Lieberman might be introducing a bill to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:
The other interesting revelation on that call came from the center’s Winnie Stachelberg, who said she anticipated the introduction of repeal legislation in the Senate.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman “is looking toward introducing a repeal bill very shortly,” said Stachelberg.
A spokesman for Lieberman’s office told The Advocate he would not confirm the report.
“The senator and the staff have been consulting with the White House and the Senate leadership on the strategy for repeal,” said Marshall Wittmann.
While introduction of legislation to overturn “don’t ask, don’t tell” would certainly represent movement in the Senate, passing a stand-alone bill is still not considered to be the surest method for ending the policy. Including such a measure in this year’s defense authorization bill offers the best chance of securing repeal this year, according to almost every knowledgeable person with whom I’ve spoken.
That last part is key. The language to repeal DADT must be included in the Defense Authorization bill. The President can have the repeal policy included in recommendations sent from the Pentagon to the Senate. That would show the President’s sincerity on the issue.
Apparently, Lieberman’s consultations with the White House and Senate leadership have come to fruition. Today, the New York Daily News reports that Lieberman will “will announce that he’s taking the lead on repeal. From the article, it’s unclear what exactly the details are in the bill Lieberman will introduce, but hopefully it will be along the lines of the plan proposed by Servicemembers United. And, there’s no indication what the strategy is for passing the repeal, although, he notes it will be hard:
Despite recent polling which shows overwhelming support for lifting the ban, Lieberman does not predict an easy fight. Even McCain, Lieberman’s good friend and ally, is opposed, stating: “At a time when our armed forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy.”
Again, there is an easier path if the White House and Senate Democrats agree to include the repeal language in the Defense Authorization bill. In fact, Lieberman and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin discussed that strategy during the hearing with Gates and Mullen:
SEN. LIEBERMAN: I appreciate that.
And, look, then the final, obviously, is that it’s up to us in the Congress and in the Senate. We’ve got to – we’ve got to get 60 votes to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell, or else it will remain in effect. Thank you.
SEN. LEVIN: Unless there’s a provision inside the Defense authorization bill; that goes to the floor, which would then require an amendment to strike it from the bill; in which case the 60-vote rule would be turning the other way. In fact –
SEN. LIEBERMAN: It is – (inaudible) – knowledge, but it is with great appreciation that I accept the higher wisdom – (laughter) – of the chairman of our committee.
SEN. LEVIN: (Laughs, laughter.)
SEN. LIEBERMAN: I think that’s a great way to go.
SEN. LEVIN: That’s on the record, everybody. (Laughter.)
It is a great way to go. It’s the only way to go for success.