Armed Services Republicans threatened Wednesday to filibuster the defense authorization bill if it comes to the floor with Democrat-backed language repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Armed Services ranking member John McCain said Thursday that he would "without a doubt" support a filibuster if the bill goes to the floor with repeal language.
"I'll do everything in my power," the Arizona Republican said, citing letters from the four service chiefs urging Congress not to act before a Pentagon review of the policy is complete. "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."
With Democrats trying to rally support for compromise language hammered out this week by the White House and Congressional repeal backers — and adoption of that language at this week's Armed Services markup looking increasingly likely — Republican opponents of repealing the 1993 law are beginning to look ahead to floor debate.
Another Armed Services Republican, Sen. Roger Wicker, also said he would 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.
"If it is adopted, I will not sign the conference report, and there will be an attempt to filibuster the bill on the floor," the Mississippi Republican said of the language, which the Armed Services panel is likely to consider as an amendment Thursday. "It's a major mistake."
Wicker described repeal as "a huge shift," adding, "This bill is not the place for social policy. ... Why is there a need suddenly to accelerate the process, to send a signal to our service members that the assessment is nothing more than eye wash, is beyond me."