McCain laments effort to 'jam' through repeal of 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lamented Tuesday on what he said were efforts to "jam" through a repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he welcomed a review of the military's prohibition on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, but was chilly toward a deal struck by congressional Democrats and the White House on a roadmap to abolish the policy.

"This 'Don't ask, don't tell' issue, they're going to try to jam that through without even trying to figure out what the impact on battle effectiveness would be," McCain said on Arizona's KBLU radio. 

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The White House announced a deal Monday night with Chairman of the Armed Services Committee Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) that would abolish the policy once President Barack Obama and his top civilian and military officials certify the repeal is "consistent with the military’s standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion and recruitment and retention."



The deal would allow Obama to move forward with his promise to do away with "Don't ask, don't tell" while still bowing toward concerns from centrists in Congress and some members of his administration that repealing the policy would negatively impact the military.

"We have to be careful to make any changes to it, because we're in two wars," McCain said.

The Arizona Republican, who's fending off a conservative primary challenger in his reelection bid, also asserted that the push forward with this deal is driven by fears that Democrats might lose the votes to repeal the policy in this fall's elections.

"One of the reasons they're trying to jam it through is that they think that after the November elections, they may not have the votes," he said.

It's not clear how many votes the deal struck by the lawmakers with the White House might garner; Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) has already signaled he may vote against a bill to abolish the policy.

Interestingly, both McCain's wife, Cindy, and daughter, Meghan, have been active in supporting gay rights.


Update, 11:00 a.m.: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who's been targeted by gay rights activists to support a repeal, said it would be "premature" to act to abolish "Don't ask, don't tell." He said Tuesday:

"It would be premature to act on a repeal of the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law at this time. The Pentagon is still in the midst of its study of the matter, and its report is due in December. For some time now, I have been seeking the opinions and recommendations of service chiefs, commanders in the field, and, most importantly, our junior soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. I believe we have a responsibility to the men and women of our armed forces to be thorough in our consideration of this issue and take their opinions seriously. I am keeping an open mind, but I do not support moving ahead until I am able to finish my review, the Pentagon completes its study, and we can be assured that a new policy can be implemented without jeopardizing the mission of our military.”

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