DADT repeal likely on House floor Friday; picks up critical senate support

The Murphy Amendment seeking repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is slated to come up near the end of the House’s consideration this week of the annual defense authorization bill.

Patrick Murphy
Patrick Murphy

The Murphy Amendment seeking repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy is slated to come up near the end of the House’s consideration this week of the annual defense authorization bill.

The House Rules Committee released its plan for the defense bill late Wednesday night. That plan shows the committee approved 82 of the 193 amendments submitted for consideration on the bill and calls for the 82 amendments to be taken in order. The amendment submitted by Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Penn.) is identified as Number 79.

There is a provision in the Rules report for an amendment to be taken out of order. For that to happen, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Missouri) would have to give the presiding chairman 30 minutes advance notice.

The House floor action on a jobs bill was, as of Wednesday night, scheduled to resume on Thursday morning. According to one senior House aide said that will likely push back consideration of the defense funding bill until later in the day on Thursday. And for that reason, said the aide, consideration of the Murphy Amendment will not likely begin until sometime Friday, May 28.

In other breaking news late Wednesday, conservative Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia has apparently issued a statement saying he will vote for the Murphy Amendment on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. In a press release on plain paper, Byrd is quoted as saying he worked with the amendment’s supporters “to include a provision in the proposed compromise amendment that would delay the repeal…for 60 days after receipt” of the Pentagon study group report, which is due December 1.

“With these changes,” the press release quotes Byrd, “I will support the amendment….”

The language of the amendment printed by the House Rules committee calls for “a 60-day period after certification before the repeal took effect.”

Byrd was one of six senators that supporters of the repeal identified as critical to passage of repeal. Another, Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) also said Wednesday he would support the repeal amendment. A third, Republican Scott Brown of Massachusetts, said Wednesday he would vote no; but the statewide gay political group MassEquality has stepped up its efforts to persuade Brown to change his mind, asking state residents to contact Brown again and urge his reconsideration. Virginia Democrat Jim Webb has also indicated he will vote against the amendment and Bill Nelson of Florida will support it. No word yet on Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) concerning the compromise amendment.

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