The odds that Congress will repeal the 1993 law that bans gay and bisexual troops from serving openly are tumbling fast in the wake of GOP gains in both chambers of Congress.

Even before Congress opens its lame-duck session, the drive to repeal the law this year appears to be losing steam, analysts and political watchers say.

It is “extremely unrealistic” that Congress will take up repeal this year, Richard Socarides, a former adviser on gay rights to President Bill Clinton, told the Wall Street Journal.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agreed with the sentiment. “I would like to see the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' but I'm not sure what the prospects for that are,” Gates told reporters in Australia, where he's attending a series of defense and diplomatic meetings.

The Journal is also reporting that the highest-ranking members of their respective parties in the Senate Armed Services Committee – Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan and Republican John McCain of Arizona – are in talks on stripping the repeal amendment from the defense bill.

With Republicans taking over the House in January, and increasing their numbers in the Senate, supporters of repeal are urging lawmakers to take up the bill before the new members take their seats.

Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), warned that stripping the defense bill would be “unacceptable.”

“If the President, Majority Leader [Harry] Reid, Secretary Gates, and a handful of Republican senators are committed to passing the comprehensive bill, there is ample time to do so,” the leader of the nation's largest group lobbying for repeal said. “Any talk about a watered down defense bill, whereby the 'Don't Ask' revisions would be stripped out, is unacceptable and offensive to the gay and lesbian service members who risk their lives every day.”

President Obama has previously said he would end the policy on his watch, but the window of opportunity in the short term appears to be closing.

Gay GOP group the Log Cabin Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a lower court's injunction prohibiting the military from enforcing the policy as a government appeal wends its way through the courts. Justice Anthony Kennedy has asked the federal government to weigh in on the case before Wednesday.

Congress is also unlikely to debate other gay rights measures already on the back burner, including repeal of the federal gay marriage ban, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and a federal workplace anti-discrimination bill that includes sexual orientation and gender identity (transgender protections), the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).