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House Votes to Overturn Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy

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A supporter of a bill to overturn the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy holds up a portrait of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who opposes the amendment to repeal the military's 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops, Friday, Dec. 10, 2010, during a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP) (AP2010)

WASHINGTON -- The House on Wednesday voted to overturn the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, setting up another showdown in the Senate.

The vote was 250-175.

Instituted in 1993 by President Clinton, the rule bans gays from openly serving in the armed forces.

This could be the last chance for Democrats to try to repeal the measure, as the House flips to Republican control in January.

Republican critics contend that changing the policy during a time of war is inappropriate.

The issue now heads to the Senate, where senators could soon vote on an identical bill.

The sponsors of the legislation, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., insist that they have the 60 votes necessary to overcome a procedural challenge and pass the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says that the legislation could be up for consideration during the waning days of the current lame duck session.

More than 13,500 service members have been dismissed under the 1993 law.

The Obama administration supports the repeal, but is appealing the ruling of a California federal judge that the ban on gays serving openly in the military is unconstitutional. The administration says Congress should overturn the policy. But gay rights groups say they will shift their focus back to the courts if Congress fails to act.