Monday, June 14, 2010

Pelosi: No ENDA Vote Until After 'Don't Ask' Repeal

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday said that a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act wouldn’t take place until Congress completes legislative action on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

During her weekly press conference, Pelosi said in response to a Blade inquiry on ENDA’s prospects that lawmakers “still have to finish ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”

Referencing the successful House vote May 27 to attach repeal to Defense Department budget legislation, she said, “And now, of course, we’ll go — after the bill passes in the Senate — we’ll go to conference. But our work is not finished in that regard, so one thing at a time.”

A Democratic leadership aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, later affirmed that ENDA would not see a vote until work on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is complete.

“It’s very important that we finish ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ before we move on to ENDA,” the source said. “We must ensure the community remains focused on getting ['Don't Ask, Don't Tell'] done and maintaining strong pressure to get the Defense bill done in light of filibuster threats in the Senate. Then we can move on to continuing to assess the votes on ENDA.”

Supporters of ENDA have been pushing Pelosi to move forward with the legislation. At the same time, others have been concerned about a legislative maneuver known as the motion to recommit, which could derail the measure.

Pelosi called ENDA a “personal priority,” but said the House took up “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because bringing the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill to the floor presented an opportunity for repeal.

“But because the defense bill came up now, we did ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ first,” she said. “But we want to finish that.”

It could take several months for Congress to finish legislative action on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The full Senate has yet to vote on the defense authorization bill, and differences in the House and Senate versions would have to be hammered out in conference committee before the measure is sent to President Obama’s desk.

Still, Pelosi said, “we’re very proud” of the House vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the House, calling it a “historic” action.

She chided Republicans for voting against the legislation and said she’s “disappointed” only five voted for the repeal measure and nine voted for the defense bill as a whole when it came to the floor.

“It’s nothing to take for granted in terms of nine Republicans voted for the defense authorization bill,” she said. “Five Republicans voted for the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Only four more voted for the [Department of Defense] bill, which is something they usually vote for 100 percent.”

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