There was a lot of news late yesterday about the announcement that there will be a vote on the Defense Authorization bill with the DADT language included.
One piece of information caught my eye this morning in Kerry Eleveld’s reporting on this development:
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he had asked the majority leader to take up the bill after the Pentagon issues its report and following hearings he plans to hold on the matter, “which should take place during the first few days of December.”
“I will work hard to overcome the filibuster so that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is repealed and the NDAA — which is critical to our national security and the well-being of our troops — is adopted,” he said.
So Levin will hold hearings on the report, which is due on December 1st.
There are a number of Senators who have stated that they want to see the report before they vote on the DADT language. Arkansas’ lame duck Senator, Blanche Lincoln, has said that as has the new Democrat from West Virginia, Joe Manchin. Levin’s hearing could garner additional votes. But, it also slows down the process.
We’re running into a serious time crunch here. As Kerry notes, Hill staffers think the process to pass the Defense Authorization bill could take two weeks. The debate on the bill won’t begin until after the hearings. The hearings will take place “during the first few days of December.” There’s been talk that the Senate will adjourn on December 10th. Clearly, that can’t happen.
And, let’s not forget, passing the DADT language, as written, in the Senate isn’t the only remaining hurdle. There will probably be an effort to amend the DADT provision. That will make it subject to debate in conference. And, as SLDN pointed out:
However, SLDN does not under estimate the “Big Four.” The “Big Four” are the chairs and ranking members in the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. Only one of the four supports repeal: Senate Chairman Carl Levin. The ranking member in the Senate, Sen. John McCain, and House Chairman Ike Skelton and ranking member Rep. Howard McKeon, do not.
The geniuses who concocted the timeline for the study, led by White House Deputy Chief of Staff (and soon-to-be Obama reelection campaign manager) Jim Messina, really did us a major disservice. You know they thought they were being so clever to push the date of the study past the election, thinking that would end the discussion. As with so many other things, Messina and his colleagues were wrong. They’ve endangered the best chance to end DADT.
There’s going to be a lot of work to do in December. I just hope the Senate is prepared to do its job. And, the President and Secretary Gates better be working the phones — especially Gates. He said he didn’t want a vote til his report was done. Well, his report will be done soon.