Servicemembers United explains how President and Senate can get DADT repealed

Servicemembers United, via press release, “enthusiastically lauded” the news that Senator Lieberman will introduce a DADT repeal bill in the Senate. Importantly, SU’s release also details the critical role that President Obama can play in the process. And, it shows the only viable legislative route for success is to have the repeal provision attached to the Defense Authorization bill:

In response to the opportunity presented by this historic testimony, Servicemembers United recently resurfaced its “Set End-date / Delayed Implementation” model for repeal legislation and made the case for the introduction and adoption of such legislation in 2010. The proposal would see to it that full repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law gets locked in this year while also allowing the Pentagon time to complete it’s analysis.

To strengthen the prospects for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and to reduce political risk, the President can still order the Pentagon to include “Set End-date / Delayed Implementation” repeal language in one of the legislative policy transmittals that will soon be sent to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees by the Department of Defense. These policy proposal packages serve as indications of White House and Pentagon support for policy changes to be included in the next National Defense Authorization Act.

Additionally, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee could insert Senator Lieberman’s new bill into the Chairman’s mark of the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, which will soon be drafted. Such a move, especially in combination with the Presidential action through Pentagon policy transmittals, could turn out to be the path of least resistance for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law and could help shield vulnerable members of the President’s and the Chairman’s own party.

Servicemembers United’s “Set End-date / Delayed Implementation” repeal plan can be found at www.servicemembersunited.org/2010plan.

Anyone supporting the repeal needs to understand the process explained in this release. It’s critical for the Obama administration to follow through on its words about “repealing DADT” with action. The action is including repeal language in the policy recommendations sent from the Pentagon to Congress. As Servicemembers United noted, that would “strengthen the prospects for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.” It’s hard to figure out why the White House wouldn’t want to strengthen the chances for repealing the law, since the President has made the repeal a priority this year. Servicemembers United also debunks the notion that the President has no role in the legislative process. He clearly does.

On Capitol Hill, the critical action will take place in the Senate Armed Services Committee. The members of that committee are listed here. There will be additional hearings on DADT over the next couple of weeks. And, the final Committee bill will likely be produced in April or May.

The key point is that if the repeal language is in the Committee’s bill it will take an amendment on the Senate floor to remove it. That amendment can be filibustered, requiring 60 votes. If our side is forced to add the repeal language on the Senate floor, we’ll need 60 votes to block a filibuster of the amendment. This is one time when Democratic leaders can use their power to our advantage — by putting the repeal in the DOD authorization bill from the get go.

Lieberman says that he’s been working with the White House on his legislation. Let’s hope there is a real strategy to get it done that extends beyond the introduction of a bill. Servicemembers United has laid out the path. Now, our elected allies need to deliver.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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