April 15, 2010 at 6:35 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Pelosi expects House vote on ENDA 'soon'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (DC Agenda photo by Michael Key)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she thinks a floor vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act will happen “soon” and the committee of jurisdiction is working hard to have a strong bill.

Asked by DC Agenda during her weekly press conference what’s preventing the bill from coming to the House floor as well as when she expects a vote, Pelosi said the House Education & Labor Committee is working hard to “have the strongest possible bill” and she believes a floor vote “will be soon.”

She added that she and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer have agreed that ENDA will come to the floor as soon as the House Education & Labor Committee is ready to report out the legislation.

The legislation, sponsored by gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), would bar discrimination in the workplace for LGBT people. The bill is pending before the House Education & Labor Committee and has 199 co-sponsors.

LGBT advocates have been pushing Pelosi to bring ENDA to a House floor vote. Longtime activist Cleve Jones, in conjunction with the Courage Campaign and GetEqual.org, wrote an open letter to the speaker last month calling on her to bring the measure to a vote immediately.

Supporters of ENDA were also arrested in Pelosi’s offices in D.C. and San Francisco last month after they staged sit-in protests to draw more attention to the measure.

DC Agenda: Madame Speaker, I have a question for you on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. A number of gay rights advocates are urging you to bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. What’s preventing this bill from moving to a floor vote? And at what time do you expect on vote on this measure?

Pelosi: The committee of jurisdiction, the Education & Labor Committee is working very hard to have the strongest possible bill and vote when we come to the floor. I believe that it will be soon, and as soon as they are ready, Leader Hoyer and I agreed that it will come to the floor. So, I think it will be pretty soon.

I think we had a big breakthrough on the hate crimes bill that this Congress declared itself against discrimination and we believe that that should be declared again in terms of discrimination in employment.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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