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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Has New House Champion

Legislation to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell— military policy has found itself a new House sponsor: Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), an Iraq War veteran and member of the Armed Services Committee.

The bill to repeal the controversial 1993 policy banning gays from openly serving in the military is currently sponsored by Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), who is expected to leave the House for a leading post at the State Department. Tauscher has long championed the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy in the House.

Lawmakers aware of Murphy’s selection are keeping mum until Tauscher is vetted and confirmed by the Senate to her new Obama administration job, a process that could take months. But a Democratic aide familiar with the situation confirmed that Murphy will be the repeal’s new sponsor.

Murphy’s office wouldn’t say whether he is taking the reins on the issue.

“Until Ms. Tauscher leaves, we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,— Murphy spokesman Adam Abrams said.

It’s no surprise why proponents of the bill would want Murphy, who is a respected Democratic voice on military matters. In addition to serving two deployments in Bosnia and in Baghdad, Murphy was awarded a Bronze Star and his unit earned the Presidential Unit Citation. He is also a former West Point professor and an ex-military attorney.

Murphy, who is in his second term, has been a co-sponsor of Tauscher’s bill this year and during the last Congress.

Tauscher said several Members came forward asking to take the lead on the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. She said to expect a formal announcement on the bill’s new sponsor soon after the two-week Easter recess, although “a lot of it depends on my vetting and my confirmation process.—

The California Democrat has been offered and accepted the job as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. President Barack Obama, however, has yet to formally send her nomination to the Senate for confirmation.

While a bill to repeal the policy has already been introduced in the House, a similar measure has yet to be dropped in the Senate. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has previously sponsored the legislation.

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