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DADT repeal vote set, but will it pass the Senate?

Last night officials from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office confirmed that they'll bring the fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill -- and it's controversial repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" law -- up for a vote next week. Gay rights groups had been pushing for a vote before the election break, worried that a Republican takeover of either chamber in November could sink their hopes of a repeal.

But, now that the vote is set, the question becomes whether those groups can muster enough votes to actually pass the measure allowing gay servicemembers to serve openly in the military. When the House passed identical language back in May, the 234-194 victory came over strong objections from Republicans and some conservative Democrats. The provision barely passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee, squeaking through with a 16-12 vote.

In recent weeks Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has been targeting 14 "key" senators for lobbying efforts, some because they could provide the last few votes needed for repeal approval and others because they could present a filibuster threat in the voting procedure. They are:

-- Harry Reid, D-Nev.;
-- Mitch McConnell, R-Kent.;
-- John McCain, R-Ariz.;
-- Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark.;
-- Mark Pryor, D-Ark.;
-- Richard Lugar, R-Ind;
-- Jon Tester, D-Mont.;
-- Max Baucus, D-Mont.;
-- Judd Gregg, R-N.H.;
-- Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.;
-- Kent Conrad, D-N.D.;
-- George Voinovich, R-Ohio;
-- Tim Johnson, D-S.D.;
-- and Mark Warner, D-Va.

In a statement today SLDN executive director Aubrey Sarvis praised Reid's decision to bring the bill up for a vote, but added "now, we must deliver.”

“Repeal proponents may well need 60 votes in the Senate to get to this important debate in September. We are now in the final stretch and we must prevail."

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