“There’s no way it can pass the Senate with the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ repeal, and it doesn’t make sense they’re walking away from all the other provisions in the bill because of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’” the aide added.
Conservative groups including Americans United for Life and the Center for Military Readiness maintain that the Senate will not approve a defense bill with the DADT repeal this year.
“From logistical reasons alone, this would not be a good use of the time of the U.S. Senate,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness. “And so on reasons of principle as well as logistics there’s just no way that Sen. McCain would allow that legislation to pass.”
Some gay rights activists suggest Levin could negotiate a scenario in which the Senate considers a stripped-down defense bill without the DADT repeal and bring that up as a separate vote during the lame duck. But such a move is opposed by other activists who say the only way to ensure a repeal of the 1993 policy enacted under President Bill Clinton is to attach it to the defense measure, which in general enjoys broad bipartisan support.
The Senate voted 56-43 against a procedural motion to bring the bill to the floor in September. At the time, Republicans blasted Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for limiting debate on the measure and for attempting to attach an immigration-related amendment to the bill.
Progressive groups including the Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network are pressuring Reid to commit floor time to the defense authorization bill during the lame-duck session. Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also issued a joint statement Tuesday calling on Senate leaders to “act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ during the lame-duck session.”
Supporters suggest that with the midterm elections over, Members will be more free to vote in favor of the defense bill, which among other things also provides pay raises to service members. Furthermore, the Pentagon is scheduled to release on Dec. 1 a yearlong study on the effects of a repeal, and supporters of the repeal are expecting a positive review that could give political cover to Republicans who are deciding their stance. President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates also recently called on Congress to pass the repeal this year.
“Like Defense Secretary Gates, Sen. Reid strongly supports the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ to help strengthen our volunteer force and is continuing to work toward passing the repeal this year. He, of course, can’t do it alone,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. “The Senator needs Republicans to at least agree to have a debate on this issue, a debate he firmly believes the Senate should have.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.