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ENDA picks up votes in House and Senate
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ENDA picks up votes in House and Senate

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect LGBT workers from discrimination in hiring and on the job, continues to pick up support in both houses of Congress.

ENDA was introduced in the US House of Representatives in June by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and in the US Senate this month by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

Based on the public statements of members of the House and Senate, projected votes now line up as follows:

In the House, there are 171 definite Yes votes, and another 36 probable, for a total of 207 - just short of the 218 needed for passage. Seven Representatives have stated they will definitely vote No, and another 148 will likely join them. Seventy-eight members remain uncommitted.

In the Senate, 47 members are committed to vote Yes. Only one - Sen Sam Brownback (R-KS) - has publicly declared he will vote No. Fifty-two Senators have not yet announced their intentions.

The situation in the Senate is complicated by the cloture rule, which means that 60 Senators must agree to end debate before any bill can be brought up for a vote. Two Senators who would likely vote for ENDA - Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Robert Byrd (D-WV) - are ill and have not been regularly attending Senate sessions.

All six of Washington State's Congressional Democrats have committed to vote Yes. Four of them - Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott, and Adam Smith - are co-sponsors of the bill.

Republican Rep Cathy McMorris-Rodgers has announced she will vote No. Fellow Republican Doc Hastings voted No on ENDA in 2007 and will most likely do so again this year.

Rep Dave Reichert (R-8), who voted for ENDA in 2007, remains uncommitted.

On the Senate side, both Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are co-sponsors of ENDA.

Committee hearings on ENDA - a necessary preliminary to bringing the bill to the floor for debate and passage - are expected on the House side as early as September. On the Senate side, however, there has been no commitment to schedule hearings on the legislation.

ENDA passed the House in 2007 by a margin of 235-184. It did not come to a vote in the Senate.

The 2007 version of ENDA excluded Transgender workers from federal protections, and was roundly criticized by most national LGBT organizations. This year's version is fully inclusive.

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