Last Three Democrat Holdouts To Support ENDA

With cautious support from Republicans, ENDA seems to have gained a majority of support in the Senate, and is expected to come before the chamber next week.

BY Michelle Garcia

October 30 2013 2:26 PM ET UPDATED: October 30 2013 6:05 PM ET

Sen. Joe Manchin

Each of the Senate Democrats have expressed support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, now that the three remaining holdouts — senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Bill Nelson of Florida — have signaled that they will support the bill.

And in light of the flurry of endorsements, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to call the bill up for consideration sometime next week, according to BuzzFeed

"Late last night, Leader Reid informed [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell that the Senate will consider ENDA next week," Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz told BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner. "It’s still unclear as to when Leader Reid will file for cloture." 

On Monday, Reid announced that ENDA would have a floor vote in the Senate by Thanksgiving. ENDA was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee in July. When it heads to a floor vote, the Senate's newest member, Cory Booker of New Jersey, is expected to also support the bill.

Bill sponsor Jeff Merkley of Oregon, told the Washington Blade he was particularly optimistic about the upcoming vote.

"There's just a tremendous sense that this is an issue of fairness, an issue of equality under our Constitution, an issue of opportunity," he said. "If you don't have a chance of fairness in getting a job, you really don't have a fair chance to live the American dream."

Additionally, more Republican senators have expressed support or interest in supporting the bill, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who said he felt "inclined to support" ENDA, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. His spokeswoman later clarified to the Blade that the version of ENDA that he would support would not restrict religious liberties.

Republican senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said he would support a version of ENDA that does not include protection for transgender employees, according to the Washington Blade. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah voted for the bill in the committee vote over the summer. He told the Blade, however, that his decision for the full floor vote was not certain. Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John McCain of Arizona have each been reticent to announce their official stances on the legislation.

Representatives Jared Polis, a Democrat, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, are leading the campaign to pass ENDA through the Republican-controlled House.

Tags: ENDA, Politics

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