House Dems introduce standalone measure to repeal 'Don't ask'

A House Democrat on Tuesday will introduce standalone legislation to repeal the military's ban on openly gay service members in a last-ditch attempt to get rid of the policy. 

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) — a longtime supporter of repeal — will introduce the legislation, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced at his daily press briefing and on Twitter. Hoyer also said he would co-sponsor the bill.

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"I'm hopeful that it will pass handily through the House," Hoyer told reporters at the Capitol Tuesday, "and then I'm hopeful that the Senate will take it up." 

The timeline for action on the bill has yet to be decided, Hoyer added. 

The move mirrors an attempt in the Senate to repeal the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy via a standalone bill after the upper chamber failed to advance the defense authorization bill that contained repeal language. 

Supporters of repeal were disappointed by the vote, especially because it came after top military and government officials endorsed a repeal, citing a Pentagon study that said allowing gays to serve would not disrupt unit cohesion. 

Hoyer said he spoke Tuesday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who reiterated his support for the repeal measure, Hoyer said.

Gates "emphasized that he wants us to pass legislation," Hoyer said, "so that this can be an orderly transition." 

"I agree with his comment," Hoyer said.

The standalone bill is widely seen as the last chance Congress has to repeal the ban before the Republicans take control of the House next year. The lame-duck session could end as soon as the end of the week.

The majority leader sought to drum up support for the bill before a vote, blasting out to the press endorsements of repeal from Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Scott Brown (Mass.) and Lisa Murkoski (Alaska).

Hoyer, who will cosponsor the Murphy proposal, said the House bill will be identical to the Senate legislation, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Collins.

-- Mike Lillis contributed to this post

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