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First DADT votes could be as early as Tuesday

From NBC's Ken Strickland
The next piece of legislation expected on the floor is the bill that would allow the military to repeal its ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday. The first vote on the measure could be as early as Tuesday of next week.

(The so-called "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) provision is actually part of the larger Defense Authorization bill. The Senate couldn't move the bill until it finished the small business bill on Thursday.)

That first vote would be on "the motion to proceed" to the bill--to simply bring the bill to the floor for debate. Safely assuming that Republicans would filibuster the bill, Majority Leader Reid would need 60 votes just to get the bill on the floor.

Asked by reporters today if he had the 60, Reid said, "we'll sure find out."

When rumblings circulated yesterday about Reid's intention call up the bill, Sen. John McCain accused Reid of playing politics. McCain suggested that Reid has no intention of trying to pass the defense bill, but is merely trying to score political points by bringing the bill up and forcing Republicans to block it.

"Harry Reid does everything for political reasons," McCain said Monday. "It's a political promise that the president made and it is an effort to get this done before [Democrats] lose the elections in November."

McCain says his objections to the bill aren't about whether to repeal DADT, but when to repeal it. He believes the military study being conducted now on DADT must be completed before Congress passes a law repealing it.

"We have to assess the effect on battle effectiveness and morale before we move forward with repeal," said McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.