So Rep. Alcee Hastings was about to rock our world with an amendment to the Defense Department budget bill that would have forbid any cash from being spent to investigate Don’t Ask Don’t Tell dismissals, effectively placing a moratorium on kicking out the gays. And then he withdrew the bill. How come? “Pressure” from congressional colleagues … and a little place called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Hastings’ bill would’ve forced the Pentagon to not spend one penny of its 2010 budget on looking into allegations of soldiers being sick with The Gay. It’s almost like the moratorium Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand wanted, then canceled, because of lack of support. (A moratorium is also something President Obama could instate, because he is the commander-in-chief, though he insists Congress must do all the heavy lifting.)
But just when we were ready to take Hastings out for a quiet dinner with a nice bottle of cab sav, he yanked the amendment. It wasn’t his own doing, you see, but his pals in Congress and the White House pushed him to withdraw it. But Hastings isn’t going quietly. Upon withdrawing the bill, he said: “Due to pressure from some of my congressional colleagues and from the White House, I have withdrawn my amendment. I would, however, like to note that it is most unfortunate that we are not addressing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell at this time. We should not be appropriating funds to enable qualified service members to be booted out just because they are honest about whom they are. … What is the holdup, then? Last month, 76 of my colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take leadership on this issue and to work together with Congress to repeal this law. More than a month later, I have yet to receive an official response.”
Here’s your response, Hastings: Last year the military clocked $95.1 million in line item spending to dismiss gay soldiers. And there’s cash in this year’s budget to keep things running.
It’s clear Hastings is an ally. He would not have introduced such a bill were he not. But this is the sport of politics, where Hastings needs his teammates, and it’s clear they got the better of him this time around. But wait: Aren’t his colleagues the same Democrats in Congress, and the same president in the White House, who want DADT repealed? Huh.