President Barack Obama on Wednesday will sign legislation ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans openly gay service members, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Monday.
The president will hold the signing ceremony at the Interior Department at 9:15 a.m., according to a White House statement.
The bill signing will mark a major legislative win for Obama in the waning days of Democratic dominance on Capitol Hill. The Senate passed the measure Saturday with the help of eight Republicans, and the vote came after two previous failed attempts to pass the repeal as part of a larger defense authorization measure. The House passed the bill last week.
At a press briefing Monday, Gibbs urged Senators to apply a similar showing of bipartisanship to ratify the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a top foreign policy priority that Obama has pushed in recent weeks.
“I think there is a lesson of the importance that these issues have with not just those on Capitol Hill, but with the American people and that two parties can and should work together to get things like that done, whether it’s in December of the end of a two-year Congress or in January of the first month of a two-year Congress,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs maintained that the Senate would adopt START, even after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said over the weekend that they would not vote for it during the lame-duck session because of what they charge are rushed conditions for amendments and debate.
Senators convened in a closed session Monday afternoon to receive a private briefing by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and to discuss START. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scheduled a Tuesday procedural vote on the treaty. A vote on ratification, which requires 67 votes for passage, could occur by Wednesday.
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.