DADT Repeal Heats Up in House

Rep. Frank expects repeal amendment to be introduced next week; ENDA likely to be put off until ''late June, early July''

Despite Wednesday night’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by the House Armed Services Committee with no language repealing the ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said he expects that repeal language – in some form – will be introduced as an amendment to the bill on the floor next week.

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not dampen expectations, telling Metro Weekly that Pelosi is discussing the matter and noting that she has said that ”many find the defense authorization to be a ‘natural place’ to bring up DADT repeal.”

In the Senate, meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold its mark-up of the NDAA next week, beginning on Wednesday, May 26, with members ”advised that late night sessions are expected, as the Committee intends to complete markup on Thursday, May 27.”

Although the timeline for DADT repeal appears to be heating up, Frank said that consideration would slow the timeline for consideration of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

”I’ve always said that you’ve got to take DADT with the [NDAA],” he said. As to ENDA, however, the timing means ”it’s off until late June, early July,” quickly adding that Pelosi is committed to getting a vote on ENDA this year.

On Thursday afternoon, Frank talked with Metro Weekly about the process he expects on repeal efforts in the coming days. Speaking about the Senate Armed Services Committee, where Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has been pushing for repeal efforts to happen in the Senate, Frank said, ”There had been talk of waiting to make sure they were coordinated, but I think we’ve got to act when the bill comes to the floor.”

To that end, Frank added, ”I think Rep. Partick Murphy [(D-Pa.)] will introduce his bill as an amendment” when the NDAA comes to the floor. A spokeswoman for the House Armed Services Committee said she expects the committee to report the bill to the House clerk ”late Friday or over the weekend.” At that point, the House Rules Committee will determine what amendments will be allowed when the bill is considered on the floor. Then, according to House staff, the bill is likely to be taken up by the full House.

Of that process, Drew Hammill, the spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said via e-mail, ”The Speaker will be discussing this issue in the days ahead with the relevant Members.” Hammill also has said that Pelosi supports Murphy’s repeal bill.

As to the specifics of the language to be introduced, Frank said that issue is still being discussed. Of the distinction between the legislation in the House backed by Murphy and more than 190 other members and language that would respect the timeline set forth by the Pentagon working group looking at repeal implementation, Frank said, ”We’re talking a few months here.”

A spokeswoman for Murphy declined to comment on repeal efforts at this time.

Frank agreed that some changes to Murphy’s bill could be made to accommodate the Pentagon timeline, but he noted that those accommodations would be such that repeal would go into effect regardless of the outcome of the working group’s review.

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