Senate to Take Up Federal Ban on Sexual-Orientation Discrimination in Workplace

CHARLESTON, WV - NOVEMBER 02: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin celebrates during a election night victory party November 2, 2010 in Charleston, West Virginia. Manchin has won the senate seat that was held by the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) by defeating Republican challenger John Raese. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
National Journal
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Elahe Izad
Oct. 28, 2013, 9:51 a.m.

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.

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