The End for ENDA Delay?
After months of unkept promises on House ENDA action, it seems that things will be coming to a boil soon. Writing about a conference call held last night, Dr. Jillian Weiss wrote on The Bilerico Project blog:
...legislators on the Hill have completed the weeks-long, extra-careful whipping process. (Whipping refers to asking Congressmembers how they will vote on a bill.) We learned that legislators are "comfortable" that there are well beyond a majority of votes to pass ENDA, right now. We learned that, specifically with regard to a potential motion to strip gender identity from the bill, there are enough votes to defeat that motion.
How will it all come down?
How will it all come down?
The word on the street is that ENDA will proceed like greased lightning, once it goes. Markup will be scheduled without much warning and it will go almost immediately to the House floor for a vote.
And why is it actually happening?
Executive Director of NCTE said on the call: "In my seven years working on LGBT issues, I have never seen an issue where the volume is in favor of the LGBT issue. We have in the past heard that it is a thousand to one against. Now, we are hearing that it is 2 to 1 in favor."
She also said "That will not last. Once the markup is announced, conservatives will start dumping form letters by the thousands."
So, mark-up (creating the final text of the legislation), a vote to get it out of the House Education and Labor Committee, and then immediately to the House floor for a vote, before the opposition has time to react. A clever plan! And if this really is the tack they are taking, who knows, perhaps they will even time the vote to coincide with the final Senate vote on financial reform, resulting in even less publicity.
If Pelosi, Hoyer, Miller (Chairman of the E&L committee), Barney Frank (sponsor of the bill) and Jared Polis (the prime mover of ENDA in committee) can pull this off it will be a fine tribute to their legislative acumen; the wait will almost have been worth it.
ENDA has to pass the Senate as well...
But what of the Senate? The place all good legislation goes to die? Not only does a Senate bill face an inevitable 60-vote requirement, it also faces the calendar. As David Waldeman writes today
... with a Supreme Court confirmation vote coming up, the budget as-yet unpassed, another war supplemental... coming due, and climate change and immigration reform still largely untouched... the prospects for getting to the other major agenda items are getting dimmer every day.
Sigh. Is it too much to ask for the upper legislative body of the most powerful country on the planet to walk and chew gum at the same time? But I digress...
Disregarding schedule challenges, here's how things stand in the Senate:
The committee in charge of the Senate's version of ENDA, S.1584, is the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. There are 23 members, 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Of these member, 12, a majority, are co-sponsors of the legislation. So getting the bill out of committee would seem to be non-problematic.
There are 44 current Senators who are sponsors or co-sponsors of the bill (Kennedy and Kirk are also list as sponsors), including Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Insofar as 60 votes are required to bring the legislation to a vote, 16 other Senators would have to be found to vote for cloture.
Here are the 17 Democratic Senators who are not sponsors of the bill:
- Max Baucus (likely yes)
- Evan Bayh
- Robert Byrd
- Tom Carper
- Kent Conrad
- Bryan Dorgan (likely yes)
- Kay Hagan
- Tim Johnson
- Blanche Lincoln
- Claire McCaskill (likely yes)
- Ben Nelson (likely yes)
- Bill Nelson
- Mark Pryor
- Harry Reid (likely yes)
- Jay Rockefeller (some indication a yes)
- John Tester (likely yes)
- Mark Warner (likely yes)
This ENDA spreadsheet lists 51 confirmed YES votes, including from the above list Baucus, Tester, McCaskill, Dorgan, Ben Nelson, Warner and Reid.
There is good evidence that Rockefeller is a silent supporter.
Why am I not surprised to find Blanche Lincoln neither a sponsor nor a likely yes?
Nothing is ever easy.
Without any further Republican support, all but one Democratic Senator would be needed to force cloture.
ENDA passed two years ago in the House, but without transgender protections. Partially because of that support collapsed, and it was never taken to a vote in the Senate. Now, transgender protections will be in the bill, and support would probably collapse again if the Senate tried to take them out. Assuming it does pass the House, supporters will have to ceaselessly lobby the Senate to
- get the Senate to consider the bill at all
- get it past the 60-vote cloture threshold
- keep transgender protections in.
Brick by brick, committee by committee, recalcitrant Senator by recalcitrant Senator.
Update Link to send email to all your representatives about passing ENDA legislation