California Representative Duncan Hunter is leading an effort to delay implementation of repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” the 1993 law that bars gay and bisexual troops from serving openly, Stars and Stripes reported.

Responding to remarks by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that he is considering certifying that the military is ready to lift the policy before he steps down from his post on June 30, a group of 23 Republicans in a letter to President Barack Obama say the action would be “premature.”

“As we move forward, it is imperative that Congress have the ability to exercise its authority to have direct oversight in the welfare of our military forces,” the letter states. “While our nation is engaged in two wars and operations throughout the globe, we need to ensure that all safeguards are in place in order to protect the effectiveness, morale and readiness of our Armed Forces.”

Last month, the Republican-controlled House approved a Hunter-sponsored measure aimed at derailing repeal of the law by altering the terms under which the policy is lifted. The legislation would broaden the number of officials needed to sign off on certification from three – the president, Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – to seven, adding the four service chiefs to the list.

The measure, which is tucked inside the annual defense spending bill, is not expected to gain much traction in the Democrat-controlled Senate, nevertheless the lawmakers argue that moving ahead with repeal would be unwise.

In a statement released Thursday, Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, the largest group lobbying for repeal, dismissed the effort.

“Mr. Hunter knows very well Congress has acted and the chiefs, Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen are moving towards the final stages of certification,” he said. “This is all about Mr. Hunter – not about our troops, who have moved on.”

Representatives joining Hunter on the letter include Joe Wilson, Seven Palazzo, Todd Akin and Vicky Hartzler.

“Don't Ask, Don't Tell” ends 60 days after certification.