ENDA Sounds Like It’s Dead in the House


A bill banning employment discrimination against gays and lesbians gathered enough votes to pass the Senate on Monday, but it’s likely dead on arrival in the House.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reaffirmed today that he opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Boehner believes the proposal could hurt businesses.

“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement, according to HuffPost.

Boehner’s opposition dealt a blow to the bill’s chances of passage, just as the Senate cobbled together enough votes to break a potential filibuster. The Senate still plans to vote on the measure this evening, according to a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

Reid’s Nevada counterpart — Sen. Dean Heller — announced Monday morning he would support ENDA, becoming the fifth Republican to back the measure. All 55 Senate Democrats say they would vote for it.

“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,” he said in a statement.

But once again, the GOP-controlled House is poised to stymie the Democratic-held Senate.

If you’ve been following immigration reform, this might sound familiar. As Dave Weigel points out, the House leadership opposes an immigration bill passed by the Senate. That’s despite the fact a majority of Americans backed the proposal, according to a July ABC News/Washington Post poll.

An ENDA-like bill to end employment discrimination enjoys even more public support, according to estimates from the Monkey Cage, a political science blog. Majorities in all 50 states back ENDA, the lowest being 63 percent in Mississippi.

There is no current federal law that outlaws workplace discrimination and 29 states also lack such a law, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay rights group.

The last time ENDA was brought for a vote before Congress, it failed to pass a Democratic-controlled Senate in 2007.

The Obama administration said in a statement Monday it “strongly supports” the passage of ENDA, adding that it would “establish lasting and comprehensive federal protections against employment discrimination.”

Jordan Fabian is Fusion’s politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he’s not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.

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