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House Republican Suggests Last-Ditch Effort to Vote on ENDA

House Republican Suggests Last-Ditch Effort to Vote on ENDA

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As some in Congress attempt one last effort to vote on ENDA before the end of the term, a conservative lobbying group says it's one of the biggest 'threats' of the session.

In a move that could push an antidiscrimination bill through Congress during the lame-duck session, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has recommended attaching it to the defense spending bill.

Ros-Lehtinen, one of eight House Republican cosponsors of the bill, told the Washington Blade that she hopes House leadership will allow a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, either as a stand-alone bill or attached to the 2015 defense authorization bill.

"It is time we moved forward on this issue so discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is no longer tolerated in the workplace," she said in a statement to the Blade.

Gregory Angelo, executive director of the National Log Cabin Republicans, said that tactic "has always been on the table," but no House member has yet to formally put the plan in motion.

A previous version of the defense spending bill had passed the House earlier this year, but to add ENDA would mean the Senate would also have to add the bill as an amendment on the floor, according to the report. The Senate had already passed ENDA last April with a 64-32 vote.

A similar tactic was used to pass the expansion of the federal hate-crimes law in 2009 and again by then-Congressman Barney Frank to pass a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in 2009. Two years later, the House of Representatives approved a version of the defense spending bill to delay repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and also proposed three antigay amendments, including one reaffirming the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation, a conservative lobbying group, is warning other Republicans that ENDA is one of the biggest threats to the country during the lame-duck session.

"Voluntary actions and market forces have emerged that undermine the clamor for federal intervention through ENDA, a bill that would negatively affect civil liberties, the free market, and the marriage culture," a fact sheet circulated to Republican Congress members reads.

Other items on the list include the Children's Health Insurance Program (the group says it has enough funding already), the Internet sales tax, and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, told The Advocate that the Heritage Foundation consists of "extremists" who are "trying to drag the Republican Party even further back into the last century, and it's a little bit pathetic to see them oppose an LGBT legislative proposal that wins support from more than 70 percent of American voters, including solid majorities of Republican voters."

He added, "We are grateful that this antigay propaganda from the Heritage Foundation will fall on deaf ears with Republican members like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Charlie Dent, and Chris Gibson who have called on Speaker Boehner to allow an up-or-down vote on LGBT workplace protections." Gibson, a Republican who sits on the House defense committee, has also backed attaching it the the defense spending bill.

In a meeting between House Republicans and the LGBT Equality Caucus earlier this year, Boehner said there was "no way" ENDA would pass in 2014, and last year he said he did not feel the need to push a vote on the bill.

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