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'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' procedural vote expected today; unlikely to pass

There will "likely" be a procedural vote on the Defense Authorization bill which includes a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this afternoon. But the likelihood of it getting the 60 votes needed proceed to debate is unlikely. (A Republican leadership aide said simply, "It won't happen.")

This morning on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "I'm likely going to move to my motion to reconsider on the defense authorization act this evening." If the vote happens, the vote would follow a series of votes currently scheduled to begin at 4:00 pm ET.

You may remember that Senate Republicans told Reid in a letter last week that his members are collectively committed to blocking any bill from coming to the floor that was not either the bill extending the Bush era tax cuts or the bill that funds government operations.

"We write to inform you that we will not agree to [allow debate on] any legislative item until the Senate has acted to fund the government and we have prevented the tax increase that is currently awaiting all American taxpayers," the letter read, signed by all 42 Senate Republicans.

Following two days of hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, it appears that there may be enough bipartisan support to repeal the 17-year-old ban on gays and lesbians from serving opening in the military.

But until the Senate disposes of the Bush tax cut bill and government spending bill, it's highly unlikely the defense bill will make it on the floor. And once it gets to the floor, it still faces several hurdles. The biggest hurdle is whether will be enough time to finish the large and complex authorization bill, in addition to other Democratic priorities, before Congress adjourns for the holiday.