Republicans Pledge to Oppose ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Repeal

By Matt Cover | October 25, 2010 | 6:53 PM EDT

House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio addresses the American Enterprise Institute in Washington on Sept. 30, 2010. (AP File Photo/J. David Ake)

( The Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate have said that they will continue to oppose any attempt to repeal the legislative ban on homosexuals serving in the military.

Spokesmen for both Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Republican leader John Beohner (R-Ohio) said that their caucuses would continue to oppose any attempts by Democrats to try and repeal the ban in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress.

“I can’t imagine any votes changing on that,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Thursday.

Senate Republicans united in September to defeat an attempt by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to repeal the ban by attaching an amendment to that effect to the 2011 Defense Authorization bill.

“Our vote’s not going to change,” Stewart said.

“So the [Republican] caucus is pretty well united on that,” asked Stewart.

“Yeah,” he answered.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel was equally as firm, telling in an email that House Republicans would “vigorously oppose” any effort to repeal the ban.

“We will vigorously oppose any attempt to do that,” he said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Oct. 19 that the White House would push for repeal during the lame-duck session of Congress that follows the November elections.

“The president will push for the Defense authorization to be passed containing that provision when the Senate comes back in the lame duck,” Gibbs said.

“My sense is, if you can get it through a filibuster – again, everything takes 60 votes these days – that there are a majority of senators who believe as the president does that this policy is unjust and that it harms our national security,” said Gibbs. “So, the president will work during the lame duck to see what has passed the House, will pass the Senate to end up on his desk for a signature.”

The House passed the Defense Authorization bill – including the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ repeal provision – in May. If it passes the Senate in its current form, it would have to go to a conference committee to iron out the changes between the two versions, including the attachment by Reid of the controversial DREAM Act, a bill that would put illegal immigrant children on a path to citizenship.

Stewart poured cold water on the Democrats’ plans, saying that there would be little time for another drawn out legislative fight during the relatively short lame-duck session.

“Is Senator Reid even going to bring it up,” he asked. “Keep in mind, we have three weeks scheduled for the lame-duck. The first week is all taken up with food safety and cloture votes and what have you.

“That leaves us two weeks to figure out the funding for the entire federal government – because they [Democrats] haven’t passed a single appropriations bill – preventing the tax hikes because they haven’t proposed any legislation to prevent the massive tax hikes that [will] take place on January 1 other than the McConnell bill which prevents all the tax hikes; and then there’s all the series of all the [funding] extensions and highway bill kind of things that need to get extended till the end of the year, all the housekeeping kind of bills that we need to get done,” he said.

“All those issues take a lot of time. He – Senator Reid – hasn’t that that [DADT repeal] will be a vote during that two-week December period.”

Stewart explained that by adding the DREAM Act and the DADT repeal to the Defense Authorization bill, Reid made the legislation controversial – a fact that made it harder to pass.

“What Senator Reid did by adding things like the DREAM Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and other controversial measures to the Defense Authorization Act was made it controversial, slowed it down, stopped it,” Stewart said.

“The window of opportunity for passing legislation in that December [lame-duck] work period – two weeks – is really tight given all the other things we have to do. It would be a challenge to do another controversial on top of it,” he added.