Pelosi eyes DADT repeal

PELOSI EYES DADT REPEAL…. The debate has been relatively quiet over the last few weeks, but scrapping “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” remains part of the Democrats’ to-do list. House Speaker Pelosi sounded quite optimistic about the repeal effort this week.

The Pentagon’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy will be nothing but a memory by year’s end, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared Wednesday.

Pelosi, in an interview with The Hill, stopped short of laying all of her strategic cards on the table. She wouldn’t say whether the House will take the lead on the issue or predict when the Clinton administration-era tenet would be repealed.

But she made it clear ending “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is at the top of her agenda.

“I don’t have any doubt that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ will be a memory by the end of this year,” she said.

The Speaker’s optimism notwithstanding, the measure’s future remains unclear. As of this week, legislation to end DADT has 192 co-sponsors, which is impressive, but well shy of 216.

Of course, the plan has been to pursue repeal through an amendment to the defense authorization bill, not free-standing legislation. And on this front, the clock is ticking loudly — consideration of the spending measure isn’t far off. Indeed, it may come as early as next week.

One of the key complications will be Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who not only wants to keep DADT in place — he hasn’t explained why — but is afraid of the issue in light of a challenging re-election issue in his competitive district. His opposition would complicate efforts at the committee level.

In the meantime, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), the lead sponsor of repeal legislation, is working with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) on the most effective legislative strategy. Both seem relatively confident that the effort will come together this year.

Stay tuned.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.