(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants Congress to repeal the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the upcoming lame-duck session, but he questions whether lawmakers will act.
"I would like to see the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are," Gates told reporters this weekend while traveling to Australia.
Lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill next Monday for a lame-duck session that is set to focus on taxes and spending. It appears unlikely that they will tackle "don't ask, don't tell."
Making matters worse for Gates and others who want a repeal of the 17-year-old ban on gays serving openly in the military is that the repeal will face even more of an uphill legislative battle come January.
That is when Republicans, most of whom oppose the repeal, will gain control of the House of Representatives and gain seats in the Senate.
The annual defense authorization bill, which included a repeal of the policy, was defeated in the Senate in September, falling four votes needed of the 60 to proceed to debate on the measure. The vote was 56-43, with three Democrats -- senators Harry Reid of Nevada, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Mark Pryor of Arkansas -- voting against the bill, although Reid's vote was a procedural move to allow him to bring up the measure again at a later date.
The Democratic majority will shrink by six seats when the new Congress convenes in January.
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