White House, Congressional Dems Reach Agreement to Force Vote on Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

By Pete Winn | May 25, 2010 | 1:36 AM EDT

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the committee, asked Napolitano about her involvement in the decision to try 9/11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House and congressional Democratic leaders reached an agreement Monday night on a so-called “compromise” that could force a vote within days on a bill to end the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy on homosexuality, but which outraged conservatives say would delay implementation until at least December – after the congressional elections.

"Tonight, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a back room deal that disregards the views of our troops and uses the military to advance the political agenda of a radical special interest group,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement.

Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), along with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) sent a letter to the White House on Monday announcing that they had “developed a legislative proposal for consideration” by the House and Senate -- one that puts a process in place to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell once a Defense Department working group studying the policy “has completed its review” and the president, the secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff “certify that repeal can be achieved consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.”
Homosexual activist groups met Monday with House and Senate Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and then at the White House to hammer out details of a compromise. By late Monday evening, word came that the White House had signed off on the compromise language – and the deal would allow for a vote, but would delay any implementation until after the November elections.
Speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag sent a letter that Lieberman and Levin made public Monday evening:
“While ideally, the Department of Defense Comprehensive Review on the Implementation of 10 U.S. Code Section 654 would be completed before the Congress takes any action,” Orzsag wrote, “the Administration is of the view that the proposed amendment meets the concerns raised by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” and “the Administration therefore supports the proposed amendment.” 

Homosexual activists saw the announcement as a victory. 
“The White House announcement is a dramatic breakthrough in dismantling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network said in a statement.
“The path forward crafted by the President, Department of Defense officials, and repeal leaders on Capitol Hill respects the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service and allows for a vote this week,” Sarvis added. “President Obama’s support and Secretary Gates’ buy-in should insure a winning vote, but we are not there yet. The votes still need to be worked and counted.”
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, meanwhile, said the White House and congressional Democrats are rushing a vote because they are afraid of losing their grip on Congress.
"This rushed deal is a tacit admission that after the November election, the Democrats are likely to lose a working liberal majority,” Perkins said. “They want to get what they can now, and also far enough away from the election that it won't be prominent in the mind of voters.”
He added: "President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Levin know that the American people oppose forcing the military to embrace homosexuality just to pay off political supporters. We call on Congress to protect the military, listen to our troops and the American people by rejecting this outrageous deal that politicizes the military at the expense of our national security."