WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to schedule a vote to end the Pentagon's ban on gays serving openly in the military before the start of the new Congress in January.

"During the work period following the Thanksgiving holidays, I will bring the Defense Authorization bill to the floor, including a repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" Reid, a Democrat, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Our Defense Department supports repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' as a way to build our all-volunteer armed forces. We need to repeal this discriminatory policy so that any American who wants to defend our country can do so," Reid said.

President Barack Obama has pledged to do away with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, adopted in 1993, but big gains by Republicans in the November 2 elections have raised doubts about ending the ban once the new Congress takes power in January.