Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), one of the Senate’s freshest faces, broke with his party today and voted no on the cloture vote that would have likely moved Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell one step closer to an eventual repeal. After the vote, one Democratic aide said Manchin’s vote was something of a stunt, coming as it did while cloture was sure to fail thanks to Republican opposition. The aide claimed that the former Governor of West Virginia wouldn’t allow himself to be the vote that stops repeal from going forward.
In a statement to reporters tonight, Manchin suggested that as long as a vote on repealing DADT comes this year, he’ll be more than willing to shut it down.
“I do not support its repeal at this time,” he said in the statement. “I would like to make clear that my concern is not with the idea of repealing DADT, but rather an issue of timing.”
Manchin said the Senate testimony from military branch chiefs last week — most of whom said they were opposed to repealing the ban, but that they could implement it if asked to do so — was part of his decision not to back repeal for the time being.
“My concerns, as highlighted in the recent defense survey and through the testimony of the service chiefs, are with the effect implementation of the repeal would have on our front line combat troops at this time,” he said.
Manchin said he is “very sympathetic to those who passionately support the repeal,” but added that he needs more time “to visit and hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia.”
Besides, Manchin added — if supporters of repeal are upset with the Senate vote, they can always go talk to President Obama about ending DADT discharges with a stroke of his pen.
“While I may disagree with a repeal of DADT at this time, some believe that President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, if he so chooses, has the authority to suspend discharges under DADT, if he deems it a matter of national security,” Manchin said. “If this is correct, and the President was to make such an order, while I may disagree with it, I would respect his authority as President to do so.”