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Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa – Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has joined in a new effort to ensure that U.S. soldiers, rather than Washington legislators, determine whether combat units include openly homosexual troops.
King intends to co-sponsor a bill to be introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., OneNewsNow reports, that would give combat units the authority to restore the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy – which was struck down across the military as a whole by the lame-duck session of Congress – within their ranks.
Hunter also intends to propose a bill requiring the chiefs of all four branches of the armed service to certify the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” before it’s implemented, but this newest effort takes the decision all the way down to individual combat units.
“Congressman Duncan Hunter [R-California] has introduced legislation,” King says, which I’ve co-sponsored, that gives the combat units the right or the authority to exempt themselves from the repeal of the ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy.”
Though such a bill would likely face an uphill climb in the Senate and a possible presidential veto, King told OneNewsNow that its passage would at least continue the debate and force President Obama to take another stand on the issue.
“For the president to veto a bill that gave the combat units the right to re-adopt ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ would be, I think, a hard veto for him,” King said.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
Rep. Hunter is a veteran of both the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan, having left his job in the civil sector the day after the Sept. 11 attacks to join the Marine Corps.
Hunter has already prepared a bill, which may be introduced to the House as soon as tomorrow, that would also put the brakes on the repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
According to a copy obtained by The Hill, the bill requires 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.”
“The emphasis here is on combat troops,” said a congressional 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 repeal bill, signed into law Dec. 22 by President Obama, requires only the approval of the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman.
“The chairman technically speaks for the chiefs, but they should be included in the debate,” the aide told The Hill. “The chiefs are the ones carrying the burden of combat on their shoulders.”