Sen. Levin admits he may remove DADT from Defense Authorization

The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, carries significant sway over what happens to the Defense Authorization bill. About 10 days ago, we heard rumblings that Levin was negotiating with McCain about removing the DADT language from the Defense Authorization bill. Today, Levin acknowledged it. So this wasn’t background noise after all:

The measure to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military may have to be dropped from the defense authorization bill in order to get the bill passed this year, said Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-MI).

“I’m trying to get the bill through Congress. I’m the committee chairman for a 900 page bill. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is two pages of 900 pages. My focus is different from the media focus. I’m just trying to get a bill passed,” Levin told reporters at the Capitol building on Tuesday.

While no final decisions have been made, Levin said one option was to separate the language on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from the rest of the bill, and then making two separate efforts to pass the both pieces of legislation.

“I’m trying to get both done. And if I can’t get both done, I want to get one of them done,” Levin said.

The one he really wants to get done is the Defense Authorization bill. This is not good. Not good at all. As Senator Udall told Kerry Eleveld:

I do think the best way to move this forward is in the NDAA and I do worry that if we don’t formalize the repeal process in statute now that we may not have this opportunity for a number of years in the future.

Removing the DADT language from the legislation is almost certain to kill it. There’s just not enough time left for the Senate to act. And, it probably didn’t help that there was an article in today’s Washington Post titled, “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ splitting gay rights groups.” Thanks for nothing, Palm Center.

Promises have been made, repeatedly. Promises have not been kept. On October 27th, the President said “there is a strategy” on DADT:

SUDBAY: Is there a strategy for the lame-duck session to –

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

SUDBAY: — and you’re going to be involved?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes.

SUDBAY: Will Secretary Gates be involved?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not going to tip my hand now. But there is a strategy.

I thought Obama understood that I meant I was asking if there is a strategy to pass the DADT language. Because, we haven’t seen anything close to that emerging. Time is running out. Earlier today, Atrios tweeted:

DADT has been one of those ‘shut up and trust us’ issues. so outcome will be revealing

It sure will be.


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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