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Levin Expects Debate This Week on ‘Don’t Ask’ Amendment

Updated: May 24, 10:36 p.m.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin said Monday an amendment to the defense authorization bill ending the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy could be considered by the committee this week, but whether it will pass is unclear.

“I do expect it to be considered,” the Michigan Democrat said of the amendment drafted by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) that would allow openly gay individuals to serve in the armed forces.

“I do believe the White House is supportive … but that doesn’t mean we have the votes,” he added.

Levin’s comments came after White House and Defense Department officials met with lawmakers Monday to develop language for the amendment. Levin said that he and Lieberman are the top Senate negotiators, along with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who has championed the issue in the House.

Lieberman, Murphy and Levin announced Monday evening that they had reached an agreement with the White House on amendment language. Peter Orszag, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the new language had the support of the White House because it allays concerns raised by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Armed Services Committee and opposes repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell,” predicted Lieberman’s amendment will fail if it is brought up.

“I think it’s probably got a limited audience right now,” the South Carolina Republican said.

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