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.