ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced tonight that he will take another stab at passing a repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy during the lame-duck session of Congress.
“During the work period following the Thanksgiving holidays, I will bring the defense authorization bill to the floor, including a repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,'" Reid said in a statement tonight. "Our Defense Department supports repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces. We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so.”
Reid tonight added that he will set a stand-alone vote on the DREAM Act, a scaled-back immigration bill that would enable undocumented students who arrive in the U.S. before age 16 to become legal residents after five years by completing higher education or military service.
The "don't ask, don't tell" repeal – as part of the annual defense authorization bill – failed to overcome a procedural vote in the Senate earlier this fall. If it is to pass next month, Reid will have to find a way to get some moderate Republicans on board, a group that includes Sens. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Dick Lugar and George Voinovich.
But the GOP lawmakers might be willing to support the repeal if Reid were to allow a lengthy floor debate on it that includes amendments, even if that throws a wrench into an already-packed Senate agenda that includes extending the Bush tax cuts and keeping the government funded after Dec. 3. Another group of Republicans has said they would not support a repeal until they have received a Pentagon report on the policy due on Defense Secretary Gates' desk on Dec. 1.
In recent weeks, Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain were in talks to strip the repeal from the annual defense bill, but now Democrats have elected to keep the measures together as the push intensifies to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military.
Thursday morning on Capitol Hill, a group of senators led by Joe Lieberman are set to hold a press conference to push the repeal.
– Matt Jaffe