THE STRATEGY FOR DADT REPEAL?…. As of today, H.R. 1283, the House bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” has 183 co-sponsors, which is quite a few. Apparently, though, there’s a plan to help get the measure through without a stand-alone vote on the bill itself.

This year, Democrats were able to expand hate-crimes protections by adding an amendment to the Defense spending bill. Next year, the strategy is to do the same with DADT repeal.

A repeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will be included in 2010’s Defense Department authorization bill, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said.

“Military issues are always done as part of the overall authorization bill,” Frank told The Advocate in an article published today. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ was always going to be part of the military authorization.”

Such a vote is expected to be held as early as Spring 2010.

This wasn’t, by the way, idle speculation. Frank said he’s been working directly with the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on this.

Frank also defended the administration from criticism from gay-rights supporters, who’ve voiced frustrations about delays. The Massachusetts Democrat said the White House’s resolve hasn’t wavered. “The Administration is totally committed to this and has been from the beginning,” he said.

Also note the legislative strategy here. Support for repealing DADT is quite strong, but there are plenty of antsy Democrats worried about re-election who may not want to tackle this as a freestanding bill. Adding it to Defense appropriations makes repeal both easier and more likely.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.