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The GOP is also quick to note that minutes after outlining his plans on Tuesday, Mr. Reid issued a press release bashing his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, for her stance on immigration issues.

Mrs. Angle, a darling of the tea party who is in a dead heat in polls with the veteran lawmaker, responded with a television ad in which the narrator calls Mr. Reid “the best friend an illegal immigrant ever had.”

Calling both of his proposals long overdue, Mr. Reid on Thursday said that the change in immigration law “will ensure that millions of children who grow up as Americans will be able to get the education they need to contribute to our economy” and that “everyone who steps up to serve our country should and will be welcomed regardless of sexual orientation.”

Mr. McCain, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, countered that it was premature for Congress to change the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy without having a thorough review, input from military leaders and findings from a Defense Department survey scheduled to be completed in December that will analyze the impact of a repeal of the law.

“The majority is doing this in complete disregard of the views of our men and women in uniform as well as the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines who are responsible for the battlefield effectiveness of their services,” he said.