updated 12/6/2007 2:04:45 PM ET 2007-12-06T19:04:45

The Senate has dropped its insistence that Congress pass legislation expanding hate crime laws to include attacks on gays, after it became clear the measure wouldn't pass the House, according to congressional aides.

House and Senate negotiators agreed on Thursday to drop the provision from a major defense policy bill. The legislation authorizes the military to spend some $150 billion in money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and provides detailed policy guidance on the Pentagon's multibillion weapons programs.

The exclusion of the hate-crimes provision pushed by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is a blow to civil rights groups who say it is necessary to address a rise in crimes motivated by prejudice against a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

The military bill is "the last clear chance this year for Congress to make a meaningful effort to stop hate crime violence," said Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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