Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hastings' Failed DADT Amendment

When House Representative Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) suggested an amendment to a defense appropriations bill on Tuesday that would've prohibited "spending money to investigate or discharge members of the miliatry who reveal they are homosexual or bisexual," he received pressure from the White House to remove the amendment.

The amendment would've dealt a significant blow to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy that prevents gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated he wants to repeal DADT, but so far has taken no action.

I've already written about why I think the administration hasn't moved on this, but I have to admit this doesn't make the White House look good. Not so much that they "pressured" Hastings into removing the amendment, but because there has been no statement from the White House explaining its position.

Then again ... what is Hastings doing trying to sneak an amendment into the appropriations bill? Why is someone who has never once touched DADT in nine terms of office suddenly so interested in repealing the act?

Hastings, along with 76 other Congressmen and women, wrote a letter to President Obama on June 22, asking him to write an executive order halting the enforcement of DADT while Congress works on a repeal. The President has yet to do so, and according to Hastings on Wednesday's edition of The Rachel Maddow Show, he has not heard from the President.

Again, why is Hastings concerned about DADT now? Why not just support colleague Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who has authored a bill that would repeal DADT? Murphy, an Iraq veteran, has over 160 co-sponsors for his bill. My thinking is ... the White House asked Hastings to back off his amendment because there was already a bill floating around in the House that would've addressed the issue.

But if that's the case, why can't the White House just say so? The administration's silence in this instance does little on the matter of public opinion. Not that Hastings comes out of this looking particularly rosy, either; by sneaking the amendment into the appropriations bill instead of drafting legislation, I get the feeling this was just an attention grab.

Especially since the amendment has been taken away ... if the amendment stayed in the bill, would we hear about it? The media isn't exactly notorious for going through legislation with a fine-tooth comb and giving us all the details.

Frankly, we should hold the Obama administration accountable to the promises that have been made -- including the repeal of DADT. President Obama's lack of action on this issue has been disappointing, and the White House's decision to get Hastings to drop the amendment doesn't look good, but ... there's already a bill working its way through the House.

Murphy has this covered. Hastings should just support that bill and be happy with it.

(Also, why didn't Maddow ask Hastings about Murphy's bill? She's usually pretty thorough in reporting and conducting interviews, but she missed the ball on this one.)

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