President Barack Obama released a statement following the Senate's failure to proceed to debate on the National Defense Authorization Act, which contained the language aimed at repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
Saying that he is "extremely disappointed that yet another filibuster has prevented the Senate" from considering the NDAA, he blamed the failure on "a minority of Senators" who he said "are standing in the way of the funding upon which our troops, veterans and military families depend."
Of DADT specifically, he said it "violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity and equality." This is about as close as one can come to saying that it is unconstitutional without explicitly doing so.
Finally, he thanks the four senators at the center of the negotiations/breakdown thereof for their work -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) -- and "urge[s] the Senate to revisit these important issues during the lame duck session"
Obama's full statement is below the jump.
[UPDATE @ 7:00 PM: Speaker Nancy Pelosi jumps in, supporting the Lieberman/Collins standalone bill, which has Reid's support:
Since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has broad support among Senators, our troops, and the American people, it is my hope that that the Senate will move forward with an alternative legislative method. The bipartisan proposal from Senators Lieberman and Collins provides renewed hope that progress is still possible in the Senate; an army of allies stands ready in the House to pass a standalone repeal of the discriminatory policy once the Senate acts.
Her full statement can be found here.]
[UPDATE @ 7:10 PM: White House spokesman Shin Inouye clarifies what "revisit these important issues" means, writing to Metro Weekly, "The President is committed to working with Congress to achieve a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year. The White House is willing to explore all legislative options to reach this goal during the lame duck session."]
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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2010
Statement by the President on the Senate Vote on the National Defense Authorization Act
I am extremely disappointed that yet another filibuster has prevented the Senate from moving forward with the National Defense Authorization Act. Despite having the bipartisan support of a clear majority of Senators, a minority of Senators are standing in the way of the funding upon which our troops, veterans and military families depend. This annual bill has been enacted each of the past 48 years, and our armed forces deserve nothing less this year.
A minority of Senators were willing to block this important legislation largely because they oppose the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal this discriminatory law, a step supported by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and informed by a comprehensive study that shows overwhelming majorities of our armed forces are prepared to serve with Americans who are openly gay or lesbian. A great majority of the American people agree. This law weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness, integrity and equality.
I want to thank Majority Leader Reid, Armed Services Committee Chairman Levin, and Senators Lieberman and Collins for all the work they have done on this bill. While today’s vote was disappointing, it must not be the end of our efforts. I urge the Senate to revisit these important issues during the lame duck session.