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May 27, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Compromise Passes House; Headed to Senate Floor in June

Just a few minutes ago, the House passed the compromise worked out to repeal Congress' decades-old policy on openly gay and lesbian military service.

Under the compromise, the statute implementing DADT will remain law until after the Pentagon completes its repeal review on December 1. Then, if the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs certify that the implementation of dropping the policy will not damage the military, they trigger this law and the DADT statute will be repealed.

The vote was largely along party lines, 234 to 194, though five Republicans—the newly minted congressman Charles Djou, as well as Joe Cao, Judy Biggert, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Ron Paul—voted with the Democrats.

The same compromise made it out of the Senate Armed Services Committee today 16-12, also on an almost party line vote. Senator Collins voted for the repeal compromise. Senator Webb voted against. That means it will be up for a vote on the Senate floor after the Senate comes back from the Memorial Day holiday.

Senator McCain announced that he would vote for a filibuster if it became necessary to kill the bill. McCain attempted to rally opposition to the compromise because the military has not completed its repeal review:

"We are shutting out the men and women of the military by making this into law before the men and women in the military have made their input...This action cuts the men and women in the military completely out of the process. This is an all volunteer force."

This is yet another flip-flop for McCain. In February, when the military announced the planned year-long review, he claimed the military leadership was attempting to "usurp" the authority of Congress to set policy and nastily accused Defense Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen of plotting a biased implementation review.

I guess he changed his mind...again. I mentioned McCain's flip-flopping on gays in the military back in February:

Senator McCain's position has changed over the years. In 1993 he voted against DADT, preferring a flat ban on gays in the military. In 2003 he said "the day the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' he would consider changing it." Now he says that Admiral Mullen is biased.

With JD Hayworth closing in on him from the right, Senator McCain may see this as an opportunity to burnish his conservative credentials. Passage in the Senate is not yet assured. Collins' and Webb's committee switches make it at least possible that McCain can rally the 41 votes needed to sustain a filibuster. However, while Senator Brown voted "no" in committee today, he refused to rule out switching to "yes" later.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:38 PM

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