The Associated Press is reporting that the Senate Armed Services Committee has enough votes to advance a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” when the panel votes on the Defense Authorization Act on Thursday:
The prediction came after several lawmakers on the panel signaled their support, including Sen. Ben Nelson, a conservative Democrat from Nebraska who had been considered a holdout.
“In a military which values honesty and integrity, this policy encourages deceit,” Nelson said of the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” law.
The bill would still face scrutiny by the full Senate, where 60 votes are usually needed to overcome Republican objections.
But an endorsement by the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin, was considered a crucial first step by gay rights’ groups.
The measure is more likely to survive because it was being tucked into a broader defense policy bill that typically includes popular provisions like a pay raise for the troops.
The committee planned to vote on Thursday.