The joint campaign by the White House and Pentagon to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell is now being considered by the one body with the power to actually end the policy: Congress. Both the House and Senate, in crafting the Department of Defense's annual budget, must vote to include a provision repealing the policy that bans openly gay service-members. How is this going? How likely is it to pass? And what could possibly stop it?
- Heading for Victory as Planned The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen beams, "we're quickly approaching a new day -- one in which all American patriots will be able to volunteer to serve their country and wear the uniform proudly. It's change I can believe in." He adds, "About seven months ago, a strategy was put in place to scrap the existing Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Dems would add repeal to the defense appropriations bill, get the White House's blessing, and wrap the whole thing up by the early summer. ... everything appears to be going according to plan."
- House Approves Repeal The New York Times' David Herszenhorn and Carl Hulse explain how it will work. "The provision would allow military commanders to repeal the ban. The repeal would permit gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military for the first time," they write. "The repeal would be allowed 60 days after a Pentagon report is completed on the ramifications of allowing openly gay service members, and military leaders certify that it would not be disruptive. The report is due by Dec. 1."
- Senate Committee Approves Repeal Paving the way for the repeal to be considered by the full Senate, the Armed Services Committee approved the provision on a 16 to 12 votes. It was not along party lines, with Republican Susan Collins supporting and Democrat Jim Webb opposed, reports Fox News' Chad Pergram.
- How Full Senate Could Vote Conservative blogger Allahpundit predicts, "Will Collins be the only Republican to risk the wrath of the base by defecting? If she is, then Reid’s got a problem because Webb’s in line to be the 41st vote for the GOP on a filibuster. Or maybe Webb will decide that he doesn’t want to antagonize the nutroots quite that much so he’ll vote for cloture but then vote no on the final bill. Which way does Blanche Lincoln vote, though? Probably yes in order to protect herself in the primary run-off in Arkansas, but that’ll be another liability for her in the general (if she survives)."
- Senate GOP Push Against Repeal Think Progress' Igor Volsky chronicles, "Armed Services Republicans threatened to filibuster the defense authorization bill 'if it comes to the floor with Democrat-backed language repealing DADT.' 'I’ll do everything in my power,' Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said. 'I’m going to do everything I can to support the men and women of the military and to fight what is clearly a political agenda.' Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) agreed, promising to support a filibuster 'if the repeal language makes it into the version of the bill that goes to the floor, most likely after the Memorial Day recess.'"
- Could F-35 Engine Kill It? In the defense appropriation bill, which includes the DADT repeal, the House also voted to include $485 million to buy a new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engine from General Electric. The only problem is the Pentagon insists it neither needs nor wants the engine, and the White House has suggested it might veto the entire defense bill in protest of the unwanted engine. The Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman worries, "If the conferees are unable to strip the funding for the engine out, Obama — who last night said repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would 'help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive' — would have to choose between infuriating his defense secretary [by approving the engine] or abandoning one of his central promises to [repeal DADT]."