UPDATED: Senate Committee and House approve compromise on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 16-12 today to pass a compromise that will probably lead to repeal of the prohibition on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote for the compromise. Jim Webb of Virginia was the only Democrat to vote against it. I wouldn't have predicted that Webb would vote no when people like Evan Bayh, Robert Byrd and Ben Nelson voted yes.

This bill appears to have the votes to pass on the Senate floor. Representative Patrick Murphy is offering a comparable amendment to the Defense Authorization bill in the House. Technically, it's not correct to call this a "repeal" of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell, because the legislation allows officials at the White House, Pentagon and Joint Chiefs to leave the policy in place.

Here's what will happen if the amendment makes it into the final bill passed by the House and Senate:

When the President signs the Department of Defense Authorization bill into law, DADT will not instantly be repealed. Repeal would take place only after the study group completes its work in December 2010 and after the President, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense all certify that repeal will not hurt military readiness or unit cohesion.

So, gay and lesbian soldiers will continue to be discharged several months (and perhaps several years) from now. Still, I agree with Adam Bink; this has to be viewed as a "giant step" toward taking Don't Ask, Don't Tell off the books. Ideally, Congress would have passed stronger legislation, but I'd rather have them pass this deal now than shoot for something better next year. If Republicans took control of the House or Senate, we'd have no hope of repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell for a long time.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.

UPDATE: The House passed Murphy's amendment 234 to 194, with 26 Democrats voting no and five Republicans voting yes. The five Republicans who broke party ranks were Charles Djou (HI-01), Joseph Cao (LA-02), Judy Biggert (IL-13), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18) and Ron Paul (TX-14). I don't have the list yet of the Democrats who voted no.

UPDATE: Here is the House roll call. I'm pleased to see that my Blue Dog Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-03), a Vietnam veteran, voted yes.

Tags: Congress, House, Senate, DADT (all tags)

Comments

6 Comments

when is legislation ever revisited and

something better passed next year?  Never.  This is very weak legislation.  Truman didn't do a study when he integrated the Military. 

You must be very easy to please, because this legislation is pathetic.

by TeresaINPennsylvania 2010-05-27 09:35PM | 0 recs
RE: when is legislation ever revisited and

You can find a timeline regarding Truman's desegregation of the military at this link. As you can see, nearly 3 years elapsed between the first study of the desegregation issue by Truman's Defense Department and his gutsy, seat-of-the-pants Executive Order that actually accomplished the task.

September 1945: Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson appoints a board of three general officers to investigate the Army's policy with respect to African-Americans and to prepare a new policy that would provide for the efficient use of African-Americans in the Army. This board is called the Gillem Board, after its chairman, General Alvan C. Gillem, Jr.

July 26, 1948: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." The order also establishes the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.

I'm as big a fan of Harry Truman as you can find, but it's also impossible to separate this decision from the cold political calculations of the time.  Truman's political advisors had long since decided that the key to the 1948 election was a strong civil rights platform that would capture the black vote in several key states.  Meanwhile, there was no need to appease the conservative Democrats since they had already been lost, with Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats campaigning on the idea that desegregating the armed forces was "un-American" and all that.  So the executive order was dramatic but not all that politically risky.

History has a way of oversimplifying things and making it look as though the great leaders of the past were bold visionaries who always acted on their principles without hesitation.  In reality I'm confident that compromise and political caution were not invented yesterday.

by Steve M 2010-05-28 01:08AM | 0 recs
Also

even aft Truman;s Executive Order, the last regiment wasn't desegregated until 1954. The Army didn't even start until 1951. 

 

by DTOzone 2010-05-28 09:34AM | 0 recs
Complete Ahistoric Bitterness

Legislation that imposes a great social change is almost always improved over time. Here, read about the History of Social Security and learn something.

DADT repeal come December is a done deal once this passes. There is no way the Secretary of Defense or the Joint Chiefs won't approve this.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-05-28 08:06AM | 0 recs
PUMAs don't do history

being stubborn and bitter sorta clouds facts. 

by DTOzone 2010-05-28 09:34AM | 0 recs
you misunderstood me

I'm not saying revisit and pass something better next year.

I'm saying pass this now and then keep up the pressure on the White House so that they follow through and repeal DADT after the Pentagon review.

You may not be familiar with my writing, but I am far from a cheerleader for all of the Obama administration's bad compromises.

The alternative to passing this now is doing nothing and hoping that next year Democrats can pass a full repeal. I consider that unlikely. We will probably control Congress with much smaller majorities, and there's a chance we won't even control Congress anymore.

by desmoinesdem 2010-05-27 10:10PM | 1 recs

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