A member of the House Armed Services Committee plans to introduce legislation next week designed to put the brakes on repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay troops.
The measure by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) would add the four military service chiefs to the list of those who must sign off on repealing the policy before it can be officially scrapped.
Hunter, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, is concerned that the bill passed in December repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy “excluded the service chiefs from the certification process,” said one congressional aide.
The repeal bill, signed into law Dec. 22 by President Obama, requires only the OK of the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman.
“The chairman technically speaks for the chiefs, but they should be included in the debate,” said the aide. “The chiefs are the ones carrying the burden of combat on their shoulders.”
Hunter’s measure would require the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps chiefs to submit to the congressional defense committees “written certification that repeal … will not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion and morale of combat arms units and personnel of the armed force under [each] officer’s jurisdiction engaged in combat, deployed to a combat theater, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater,” according to a copy obtained by The Hill.
“The emphasis here is on combat troops,” said the aide, “because when Congress heard from the military chiefs, it was the leaders of the Army and Marine Corps who had the strongest concerns — the services that are most engaged in war right now.”
The aide said Hunter could introduce the bill as soon as Tuesday evening, adding that “15 to 20” members — so far all Republicans — have signed on.