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Gates: spending issue could cause veto of 'don't ask, don't tell' bill

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Gates believes Obama would veto "don't ask, don't tell" bill over unrelated spending dispute
  • Gates: Obama joins him in opposing money for cargo plane, alternate jet engine
  • Spending provisions part of a broad measure including plan to repeal policy prohibiting openly gay military service

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama would veto a military bill that contains spending for programs he opposes, even if the measure also included a provision to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

Asked on "FOX News Sunday" about the matter, Gates said Obama was opposed to any move by Congress to fund the C-17 cargo plane or an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

"It would be a very serious mistake to believe that the president would not veto a bill that has the C-17 or the alternative engine in it just because it had other provisions that the president and the administration want," Gates said.

When pushed on whether Obama would veto the bill even if it also included the repeal plan for "don't ask, don't tell," Gates said "I think so."

Gates and other military leaders didn't want a bill from Congress to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but they reluctantly agreed to a compromise that would only end the policy after the military completes a review of how to do it and the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sign on. The military review is due in December.

At the same time, Gates has led an administration effort to refocus Pentagon spending by cutting what he considers to be redundant or unnecessary projects and programs. Gates and Obama oppose the C-17 cargo plane and the alternate jet engine, but some Congress members have kept funding for the programs alive to create or maintain jobs back home.