A bill that would ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity will see action on the Senate floor this work session--as early as next week, according to a Senate Democratic leadership aide.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has already passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee by a vote of 15-7; backers included three Republicans: Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Orrin Hatch of Utah. An additional Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, is a cosponsor of the bill.
Almost all Senate Democrats have backed ENDA, except for three who have not cosponsored the bill: Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.
While no hard whip count has been done to see if it can garner a filibuster-proof majority, Senate leadership feels that the politics of the issue have shifted enough that they are confident it has enough support to at least open up a debate on the bill, according to the aide
It may all be a matter of timing: The Senate is first poised to take up a House bill on pharmaceutical compounding before it gets to ENDA.
Of course, ENDA is still a ways from becoming law. It would have to get through the Republican-controlled House, which is highly unlikely particularly given the low support the bill has from Senate Republicans.