Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA, pictured) released a statement yesterday saying he intends to introduce legislation that would delay repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy by interfering with the certification requirements already set forth in the bill Obama signed in December, which would, after 60 days pass from certification by the president, the defense secretary, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, allow for implementation of open service.
News of Hunter's plans arrive with the possibility of several other troubling amendments.
Hunter's press release:
During consideration of the national defense authorization act this week by the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Duncan Hunter will offer an amendment to require that all four military service chiefs certify that implementation of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)” repeal won’t impact combat readiness and effectiveness. The amendment mirrors legislation previously introduced by Hunter—H.R. 337, the Restore Military Readiness Act.
“The four military service chiefs are far more closely connected to the day-to-day realities facing each respective service branch than those who are currently required to sign off on the repeal—including the President,” said Hunter, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs should all take part in the certification process, but excluding the service chiefs is a mistake. They may agree to move forward with the repeal or they may have other recommendations for implementation and timing. Either way, their unvarnished perspective is critical to this process—especially as it relates to preserving the military’s high rate of effectiveness.
“I’ve said before that our priority should be winning in Afghanistan and focusing on the roadside bomb threat, the primary source of U.S. casualties. The repeal of DADT won’t make our troops any safer or help achieve victory any faster. Even so, any movement toward implementation must be efficient and show respect for the culture and tradition unique to each service branch and the military as a whole.”
The amendment will be introduced on Wednesday during a meeting of the House Armed Services Committee. HRC's Fred Sainz spoke with MetroWeekly:
"This is the school yard equivalent of a 'do-over.' It's just plain wrong. Republicans didn't get their way when the issue was heard last year so now their trying to remake history. It won't work."
Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade notes that other amendments could be offered as well:
Informed sources said other measures could be an outright abrogation of the repeal measure that Congress passed and Obama signed last year as opposed to merely implementing a certification expansion.
Despite efforts from advocates, if the Hunter amendment is supported in committee along party lines, the measure would likely pass because Republicans enjoy a majority on the panel by a margin of 35-27. After the defense authorization bill is reported to the House floor, a similar vote of approval could be expected on the House floor because Republican have control of the chamber. The bill could see a House floor vote as early as the week of May 23.
Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said he fears the committee has sufficient votes to pass Hunter’s amendment.
“Make no mistake. The expected Duncan Hunter amendment is designed to slow down repeal. It serves no constructive purpose, as the service chiefs themselves recently testified they are already very much a part of the certification process with Chairman Mullen and Secretary Gates and see no need for the amendment Mr. Hunter is offering.
“Put quite simply, it’s time for these opponents of repeal to move on. The Congress, the President, our nation’s senior military leaders, and the American people have spoken on this issue.”
And Johnson notes another possible amendment in the wake of the news I posted yesterday that the Navy has offered guidance allowing same-sex marriages to be performed on base facilities and allowing military chaplains to perform those services if they so wish. He writes:
Steve Taylor, a spokesperson for Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), said his boss intends to introduce a measure that would rollback the new guidance issued by the Navy.
“He intends to offer an amendment Wednesday,” Taylor said. “It would say that marriages [are] allowed to be performed on bases when they comply with DOMA.”
In any case, there will likely be some news following the meeting of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, and we'll bring it to you.