House lawmakers on Friday approved a defense bill that includes language to repeal the Clinton-era policy that bans gay troops from serving openly.

With a 234 to 194 vote late Thursday, representatives agreed to attach Pennsylvania Representative Patrick Murphy's amendment that ends the law known as “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” to next year's defense budget.

Friday's vote on the amended defense bill narrowed to 229 to 186, with few Republicans voting in favor of the bill.

“With today's successful final passage vote on the defense budget bill, the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' continues to move forward,” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that lobbies for repeal, said.

The actions in the House Thursday were just steps behind the Senate, where a key panel approved attaching similar repeal language to the defense bill over the objections of most Republican members. Only one GOP member on the committee – Maine Senator Susan Collins – crossed the aisle to vote with all Democrats except Virginia Senator James Webb.

The full Senate is not expected to vote on the defense bill until later this summer. Republicans, led by Arizona Senator John McCain, have signaled they will attempt to block repeal of the gay ban, including filibustering the defense bill.

“I'll do everything in my power” to block a vote, McCain said.

Openly gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank called Thursday's votes “one of the most important advances in our fight against prejudice based on sexual orientation.”

“A very few years from now, it will be clear that the fears expressed by our opponents' arguments were totally without foundation,” Frank said in an email.

He also thanked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, and Patrick Murphy “for their extraordinary leadership in bringing this about.”

Opponents of repeal were hoping pressure from the president and the Pentagon to hold off on repeal until after the Defense Department has completed an implementation study due in December would sway moderate Democrats to vote against repeal. But on Monday, Democratic leaders and the White House reached a compromise plan to repeal “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” but delay its implementation until after the study is complete and the president and military leaders have checked off on the policy changes.

Senators Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Ben Nelson of Nebraska said the agreement swayed them to vote in favor of abolishing the 1993 law.

But in explaining his vote, Webb said he believed that the Pentagon study should be completed before legislative repeal takes place, adding in a statement that he was concerned that “many members of the military would view such a move as disrespectful to the importance of their roles in this process.”

“We now look to the full Senate to pass DADT repeal by mid-summer and bring the defense bill to the president's desk by October 1,” Sarvis said.