A standalone bill to repeal the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy appears to have the votes to make its way through Congress, a top House Democrat suggested Tuesday.
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said he'd been told by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that there are enough votes in the Senate to advance a bill to do away with the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian service members.
"I'm told by my colleague, Joe Lieberman, that they have over 60 votes for that bill in the Senate," Larson said on MSNBC.
Lieberman and centrist GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) introduced a standalone bill to repeal the policy after the Senate couldn't muster the 60 votes to end debate in a larger defense bill containing a similar provision.
Democrats in the House unveiled a companion bill Tuesday and hope to move forward with it in the closing days of the lame-duck Congress. Lawmakers had hoped to leave Washington this coming Friday, but have now talked about working into next week and, perhaps, after the Christmas holiday.
Even if the votes exist to approve the repeal, though, the measure's ability to advance depends on procedural hurdles.