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'Don't ask, don't tell' repeal goes to Senate again. Has anything changed?

Last week, Senate Republicans blocked a repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell.' Now the House has passed the repeal in a different form. But the result in the Senate could be the same.

By Staff writer / December 15, 2010

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference on the House vote to repeal the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy Wednesday in Washington.

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The House today passed a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning gays from serving openly in the military, but it’s not clear that the Senate can muster the time or political will to move it to the floor before the end of the 111th Congress.

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Only last week, Senate Republicans blocked a bid to repeal of the Clinton-era ban as part of the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill. Democrats fell three votes short of the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster.

The House has now decoupled the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal from the defense authorization bill in the hopes that the repeal might pass on its own in the Senate. House majority leader Steny Hoyer (D) of Maryland called the 250-to-175 vote for repeal “a very strong statement that it is time to move forward.”

But little appears to have changed in the Senate, with Democrats still looking for three Republican votes to get to 60, since Democrats hold only 58 seats and Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia voted against repeal last week.

Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine voted for repeal last week, and she could be joined by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine this time. But it does not appear that Senate majority leader Harry Reid has made any headway on persuading moderate Republican Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote in favor of a repeal. Even if he does, Senator Reid is running short on time.

The deal to separate "don't ask, don't tell" as well as other controversial measures from the defense authorization bill, however, should help the defense bill pass.

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