Murphy Unclear on Timing of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Repeal
Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), the new sponsor of legislation to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell— rule for gay men and lesbians serving in the military, said Tuesday it is “impossible to answer— whether his bill will get a vote this year.Murphy, who took over as the lead sponsor of the bill a week ago when the previous sponsor, former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), resigned to take a job with the State Department, said he has met with leadership on the issue and is “doing my best to get it on the docket.— Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said she supports repealing the policy barring gays from openly serving in the military but hasn’t given any timeline on when it may happen. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has also signaled support for addressing the issue — if the House sends over legislation first.Murphy wouldn’t speculate on where House votes are on the bill for now. His efforts to win support for the bill include launching a new Web site this week, www.letthemserve.com, and meeting face-to-face with every Member of the House. He will also take part in a Wednesday press event announcing a national tour aimed at building momentum to repeal the law.“The most effective way to change policy is to meet with people one on one,— said Murphy, who is a decorated Iraq War veteran.Murphy pointed to several signs of progress in advancing the bill: It has 151 co-sponsors, Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) last week agreed to review it in committee, President Barack Obama has said he would sign it into law and national polls show increasing public support for repealing the policy.The fact that Skelton, who sponsored the original 1993 law, agreed to hold a hearing on the issue — the first full committee hearing on the policy since it took effect — shows that backers of the repeal aren’t just giving lip service on the need to overturn the ban, Murphy said.“It’s not talk that is getting these folks to put their names and reputations and honor— on the line, Murphy said. He conceded, however, that obstacles remain and that it is “going to take months— of work to build up enough support for it.“I have met with Members who are not ready to support it. I’ve tried to convince them otherwise,— the Pennsylvania Democrat said.Republican leaders are among those who will take some convincing, if they are even willing to discuss the politically sensitive issue.House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) “is extremely concerned about the impact of such a dramatic change during wartime,— spokesman Michael Steel said.“That having been said, if the administration is going to consider modifying the policy, it’s the responsibility of Congress to fully examine the impact on all levels of our military. We need to make a decision based on what’s best for America’s national security, not to advance a political agenda,— Steel added.An aide to House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) avoided taking a position on the issue altogether.“Cantor supports focusing on creating jobs,— spokesman Brad Dayspring said.