Pelosi, Hill Forced Obama to Back Deal on 'Don't Ask'

They threatened to move without him
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2010 2:35 PM CDT
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaks during a press conference in Kabul in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama went ahead with a plan to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” only because Congress dragged him into it kicking and screaming. Lawmakers, particularly Nancy Pelosi and Carl Levin, threatened to push ahead without Obama, and he reluctantly struck a deal. “Levin made it clear that the train was leaving the station,” the leader of a gay advocacy group tells Talking Points Memo. “The White House not only was not conducting, they weren't even on board.”

That's probably why Robert Gates was so muted about the deal—a spokesman said "the secretary can accept the language.” Gates strongly opposed the move, Politico reveals, wanting to give the Pentagon until December to review DADT. But Pelosi and Levin couldn't resist the opportunity to attach the amendment to an imminent defense authorizations bill. Democrats also fear that if they wait until December, they won't have the votes anymore.

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