Congress To Hear Testimony On Don't Ask, Don't Tell
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Tom Bowman, good morning.
TOM BOWMAN: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: What are Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen likely to say?
BOWMAN: So the bottom-line is this could take a year or more, and they're nowhere near the point where they could tell Congress this how we'll carry out a new policy that allows gays to serve openly.
MONTAGNE: Well, before Congress even considers repealing the law, are there things the Pentagon can do on its own, or is doing on its own?
BOWMAN: We also expect him to say that discharges of gay service members have dropped quite a big in President Obama's first year in office, as much as 30 percent.
MONTAGNE: And why is that?
BOWMAN: Well, we really don't know for sure. What we do know, of course, is the president has said - both as a candidate and as commander-in-chief - he wants to do away with this policy. And that may have had an effect within the military, sort of a ripple effect.
MONTAGNE: Tom, what is the likelihood that Congress will actually overturn don't ask, don't tell?
BOWMAN: Well, right now, they don't have the votes in the House. There are about 187 supporters on the House side. They still need several dozen more for a majority. And I spoke with a Congressman who's leading the effort there, Representative Patrick Murphy, a Democrat from Pennsylvania and also an Iraq War veteran. And here's what he told me.
PATRICK MURPHY: I've talked to the president about this. I've talked to his staff about this. And they've made it very clear that they want to get this repeal done. Washington, though, is a tough place to make change happen. And I'm not sure Congress has the guts to do it.
BOWMAN: Now, that's on the House side. On the Senate side, in the meantime, there's no sponsor at all. But the president said, of course, in the State of the Union, he'd work with Congress this year to repeal the law. The question remains, though, how much will the president push the issue, and whether the military taking a year will be acceptable.
MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks very much.
BOWMAN: You're welcome, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman. And the secretary of defense and the nation's top military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, will testify before Congress today on the law don't ask, don't tell.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.