Repeal of 'don't ask don't tell' next year?
By Ed O'Keefe and Paul Kane
Updated 5:35 p.m. ET
Congress will move next year to repeal the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy that prohibits openly gay people from serving in uniform, according to a Democratic lawmaker.
In an interview with The Advocate, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), says both houses of Congress will include the repeal in their versions of the Defense authorization bill, the massive spending package that funds the Pentagon.
Frank, who is gay, said he has consulted with the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders on the strategy. He also suggested that President Obama could stop discharges by executive order the moment the law changes.
“Once the bill is passed, even if it hasn’t yet taken effect at that point, the president could justify a stop-loss order because it would no longer be the law -- it’s just a matter of time,” Frank told The Advocate.
Senior Democratic aides said Pelosi has not formally decided on how to repeal the law but considers the defense authorization legislation the likely vehicle because that's where most Pentagon policy decisions are made.
Without endorsing a method or timing, Pelosi's office said the speaker remains committed to the effort. "One legislative way or another, this policy, which is unfair to patriotic Americans who serve our country and strengthen our national security, must be changed," Drew Hammill, Pelosi's spokesman, said.
Frank also admitted that passage of the repeal may be difficult in the Senate, where supporters will need 60 votes to end debate and get a vote. It's also unclear how politically vulnerable lawmakers will vote on an issue that is still opposed by many Americans, especially if negotiations on the bill drag into next fall.
Frank's comment come a month after President Obama told a Human Rights Campaign dinner that, "I will end 'don't ask, don't tell.' " The president did not provide any specifics on his plans to do so at the time, but Frank's remarks seem to indicate at least one path forward.
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