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Public Statements

Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I join the ranking member in paying tribute to the extraordinary public service of our colleague from Missouri who really exemplifies what it means to be a legislator of integrity and commitment and effectiveness.

I do, however, want to differ with his rather distorted picture of the history here when he says we went outside of regular order. This House passed the Defense bill under regular order with committee hearings and debate on the floor. We sent it to the Senate. Because some Senators objected to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which was included in the Defense bill to start with 17 years ago, it was twice filibustered. The reason we are here now is that twice Republican minorities filibustered the bill. That was the breakdown of regular order.

But here we are today. Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer took a very important stance and said, when the Senate asked us, we will break Don't Ask, Don't Tell off from the regular bill, but we want to be sure both passes, and that is what we are in the process of doing. To the credit of the Senate leader and Senator Lieberman, they will be voting on cloture for Don't Ask, Don't Tell tomorrow.

In light of that, while there is much in this bill with which I disagree, I strongly urge those who share many of my views to vote for it. Let me be very clear, I think it is very important to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I honor the work that was done under the leadership of the gentleman from Missouri, although I have some disagreements with it. But the point is that the success of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is tied to the success of this bill in a perfectly reasonable way. In legislatures, people need to compromise. So I am going to vote for this bill. I vote for it knowing that tomorrow the Senate will begin cloture. There will be things in this total bill that many of us will like and dislike, but I think it speaks well of the Nation and the process we are going through. And I urge those who share some of my objections to some pieces of this bill to vote for it so we can go ahead and get the whole thing done. I would also point out that even if we were to defeat this bill, much of what I don't like would happen in the appropriations bill.

So I urge those who join me in having concerns about Don't Ask, Don't Tell to help us pass this bill and get this thing going.


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