Senate Votes To Advance Landmark Anti-Discrimination Bill

Senate Votes To Advance Landmark Anti-Discrimination Bill

The U.S. Senate advanced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on Monday evening, voting 61 to 30 for cloture on the bill that would forbid employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill will face a final vote later this week.

The bill’s passage was uncertain until Monday morning, when Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) announced that he would cross party lines and vote against a majority of his fellow Republicans in support of the bill.

“After listening to Nevadans’ concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do,” the senator said in a statement. “Under the leadership of this governor, as well as the legislature over the past several years, Nevada has established a solid foundation of anti-discrimination laws. This legislation raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance.”

Heller’s announcement made him the fifth Republican — following Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — and the 60th senator to signal their intention of supporting the bill. Those five were eventually joined by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Every other Republican voted against cloture, although none spoke out in opposition before the vote.

The bill enjoys almost universal support within the Democratic Party, including in the White House. On Sunday evening, President Barack Obama wrote a blog for The Huffington Post urging passage of the equal-rights legislation.

“[M]illions of LGBT Americans go to work every day fearing that, without any warning, they could lose their jobs — not because of anything they’ve done, but simply because of who they are,” the president wrote. “It’s offensive. It’s wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.”

“In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called ‘the content of their character,'” he added. “That’s what ENDA helps us do. When Congress passes it, I will sign it into law, and our nation will be fairer and stronger for generations to come.”

President Obama may be too optimistic, however. Even before the Senate voted, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated his staunch opposition to the bill.

“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told Politico.

There is some reason to believe that ENDA could pass the House were it brought to the floor for a vote. When the lower chamber last considered the bill in 2007, it passed with 35 Republican votes, including GOP leaders Paul Ryan (R-WI), Greg Walden (R-OR), and Pat Tiberi (R-OH). Given Boehner’s opposition, however, it’s unlikely that he would violate the “Hastert Rule” to even bring the legislation to the floor.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump

Imagine this: You’re a clerk to a judge in a New York State court. You graduated from the Cardozo School of Law in 2010, and since then, you have worked as an associate in a New York law firm. For five years, you worked for the City of New York in its Special Litigation Unit handling law suits against the city. You have been the clerk to Judge Arthur Engoron since 2019, getting up in the morning and traveling by subway into Manhattan to your office in his chambers, or sitting beside him in court, advising him on cases, filings, motions – the constant flow of legal documents and questions that any judge in a big city court deals with constantly.

Keep reading...Show less
Trump Touts New Push To 'Repeal And Replace' Obamacare

The late Sen. John McCain gives thumbs down to Affordable Care Act repeal in July 2017

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

Donald Trump is once again living in the past, trying to resurrect a Republican political debacle that even the Freedom Caucus has abandoned: Obamacare repeal. “The cost of Obamacare is out of control, plus, it’s not good Healthcare. I’m seriously looking at alternatives," he spewed on Truth Social on Saturday.

Keep reading...Show less
{{ }}