Levin: Lame-duck Senate 'will get to' repeal of 'Don't ask'

The leading Senate Democrat on military affairs on Tuesday expressed optimism that the upper chamber would take up the bill that contains the "Don't ask, don't tell" repeal in coming days.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said on Tuesday he thinks the Senate "will get to a vote" on the 2011 defense authorization bill, critical for military policy, this week.

Without passage of the 2011 defense authorization bill this year, the chances for repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military are dimmer next year, with Republicans holding the House majority and more seats in the Senate. The GOP is generally more skeptical of the administration's plan for repeal.

Levin, a chief supporter of repeal, told reporters that Democrats have a "good shot" at getting the 60 votes necessary to start debating the defense bill.

Levin said he has been discussing with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) how to proceed with the defense authorization bill.

Reid's office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said this week he was not optimistic the Senate would get to the repeal during the lame duck.