Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wednesday that a critical Defense Department authorization measure that contains a repeal of the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy banning openly gay Americans from serving in the military could possibly be squeezed into a short lame-duck Senate session, but that its ultimate fate will depend on Republican cooperation.
The majority leader said he spoke earlier Wednesday with Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and that Levin is "anxious" to get the proposal to a Senate vote when members reconvene on Nov. 15. But Republicans will first have to agree to a procedural process, which could take longer than the Senate is willing to stay in session before Christmas approaches.
"The problem we have with the defense aurhorization bill is that it takes a while to get done," Reid said. "If we can get some agreement from the Republicans that we can move the bill without a lot of extraneous amendments, I think it’s something we could work out. That would be my goal."
Tuesday's midterm elections dealt a blow to proponents' hopes for repealing the DADT policy. Besides the Republican takeover of the House starting in January, and a reduced Democratic majority in the Senate, the defense authorization must also jockey with other issues for floor time. President Obama’s administration also is appealing a federal court judge’s ruling that the ban is unconstitutional, although Obama supports repealing the policy, and Reid on Wednesday indicated the same.