Pelosi: Liberals Only Voted for 2011 Defense Spending Bill so They Could Repeal 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell'

May 26, 2017

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) spoke Friday at an LGBT rights event at the Pride Center at Equality Park of South Florida, where she touted how liberals in the Democratic Party only voted for the nation's defense spending bill for fiscal year 2011 so they could repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"Don't tell anybody I told you this," Pelosi said, before explaining how she was able to get liberal Democrats onboard to support the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, the annual federal law that specifies the Defense Department's budget and expenditures.

Pelosi described how in 2010 Democrats put an amendment into the NDAA for fiscal year 2011 that would repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the U.S. policy on homosexuals or bisexuals serving in the military for nearly two decades. She said Democrats had very few Republican votes to pass the bill with the amendment attached, so she had to approach the liberal faction of the Democratic Party, which she said never votes for the defense bill.

"I went to my Barney Franks, [Rep.] Barbara Lee [D., Calif.], [Rep.] John Lewis [D., Ga.], you name it, the liberal contingent in which I'm a member" Pelosi said. "And I said to them, 'We are making history today.'"

Pelosi said she told them they were going to vote for the defense authorization bill and that she knew Republicans were not going to vote for it because of the amendment repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"Never. We never vote for the defense bill," they said, according to Pelosi.

The California Democrat recalled how party roles were reversed, with most Republicans who always vote for the NDAA not doing so because of the amendment, while many Democrats who never vote for the defense funding bill did so that year.

"So there they go down the center aisle, John Lewis, Barney Frank, Barbara Lee, you name it, all down there to make history and vote for the first time in their careers for the defense bill." Pelosi said, reflecting on the vote in an excited tone.

"I want you to know that some people made some sacrifices they did not expect to make in the interest of passing the [defense bill]," Pelosi added.

Former President Barack Obama signed the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Repeal Act into law in December 2010.