[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/12/09/t1.getty_troopnoface2.jpg width=300 height=169]CNN Wire Staff
The Senate on Thursday rejected a Democratic bid to open debate on repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning openly gay and lesbian soldiers from military service, possibly killing any chance for it to get passed in the current congressional session.
However, a bipartisan group of senators immediately said they would raise the issue again in a separate piece of legislation. It was unclear if the bid to separate the repeal provision from a larger defense authorization bill would increase its chances for approval.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, called Thursday's vote without an agreement with any Republican senators to support the motion, ensuring it would fail. The vote was 57-40 in favor of the cloture motion that required 60 votes to pass.
A Republican filibuster forced Democrats to seek a deal that would get them the necessary GOP support to get the 60 votes to proceed. The Democratic caucus has 58 members, meaning they needed at least two Republicans to join them to overcome the filibuster.
Reid had been negotiating with moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine for her support, and he postponed a planned vote Wednesday to allow more time for the talks to reach agreement.
However, Reid announced Thursday he was calling the vote to open debate on the defense authorization bill, saying it was time to act on it after months of Republican obstruction and intransigence.
Collins, apparently caught by surprise, missed the start of Reid's speech and requested a chance to question him on the Senate floor. She reiterated her support for repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and asked if the deal she had been discussing with Reid on Wednesday still stood.
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