WASHINGTON – Two top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to delay the new policy allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
In a letter to the Pentagon chief this week, California Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, the committee chairman, and South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson — two opponents of repealing the ban — complained that the policies and regulations for implementing the change have not been finalized nor provided to the panel.
"Since it is evident that the department does not have final, approved policies in place, we believe it is essential that you take immediate action to delay the implementation of repeal until such time that the review and comment period is completed, that DOD has incorporated the changes suggested during the comment period and that the appropriate regulations needed to implement repeal have been distributed to and are understood by the leaders and key personnel in the field," McKeon and Wilson wrote.
The new policy is slated to go into effect on Tuesday. The end to the 17-year-old ban, commonly known as "don't ask, don't tell," comes after the department has spent months training more than 2.25 million service members, about 97 percent of the total force.
A Pentagon official said senior officials have advised Congress on changes to regulations and policies associated with the repeal and the department's general counsel met with Armed Services Committee staff to discuss the proposed changes. The official said repeal of the ban will occur on Tuesday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with Congress.
Congress voted to lift the ban last December and President Barack Obama certified in July that repeal would not harm the military's ability to fight.
Army Gen. Carter Ham, who co-directed a Pentagon study on ending the ban, said Wednesday repeal is likely to prove "pretty inconsequential."
Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.