| WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- The battle over defense issues moves to the U.S. Senate, where observers say they expect a struggle over the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
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Republicans say they're looking at a provision that would require all service leaders to certify the repeal -- which would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly -- can be executed consistent with the military's standards of readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, recruitment and retention, The Hill reported Monday..
Current congressional provisions say only President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, have to provide the certification.
Senate Armed Services Committee member John McCain of Arizona, the panel's ranking Republican, solicited letters from the armed forces branch chiefs in which they said they wanted Congress to delay voting on the repeal until Dec. 1 following a Pentagon review of how the military should carry out the changes.
The House last month passed its version of the defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2011.
A McCain-backed provision mandating the president deploy 6,000 National Guard troops to the Southwest border also is expected to generate floor debate on the defense bill, The Hill said. One more flash point could be a $1 billion cut in the administration's $2 billion request for U.S. military training of Iraqi security forces.
However, Gates's efforts to revamp the Pentagon's contract-bidding process and cut major weapons programs could get a boost from, of all sources, the Tea Party movement, Politico reported.
Key Tea Party activists said they'd accept cuts to the Pentagon budget if they help curb federal spending and eliminate a projected deficit of more than $1 trillion.
"Everything is on the table", Mark Meckler, a national coordinator with the group Tea Party Patriots, told Politico. "I have yet to hear anyone say, 'We can't touch defense spending,' or any other issue. ... Any Tea Partier who says something else lacks integrity." - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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