March 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Frank: ENDA to be introduced ‘any day now’

Rep. Barney Frank (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Wednesday that he expects the Employment Non-Discrimination Act  to be introduced in the House “any day now” but he remains skeptical about its chances for passage in the 112th Congress.

“We’re going to be [introducing the bill] any day now,” Frank told the Washington Blade. “We’ll introduce it the way it was introduced last year. But that one — there’s no real prospects for in this Congress, but we are going reintroduce it.”

As it was introduced in the previous Congress, ENDA would bar job bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in most private and public workforce settings.

But the general consensus among Capitol Hill observers is that passage of any pro-LGBT legislation, including ENDA, will be a significant challenge for at least two years with Republicans in control of the U.S. House. Last year, Frank told the Blade there would be “zero chance” for the passage of any legislation that would directly benefit the LGBT community.

Still, Frank said introduction of the legislation is important to educate the public and members of Congress, especially on the transgender protections included in the bill.

“It’s important to introduce it to give people a chance to lobby their members on it,” Frank said. “Having a bill there encourages people to lobby their members. Particularly, we need people to do more lobbying and educating on the transgender issue, and so having a bill there is a very important part of getting the votes ultimately to be able to pass it.”

Frank, the longest-serving openly gay member of Congress, said he didn’t immediately have an estimate for how many co-sponsors he would have for ENDA upon its introduction, but said the legislation may have some Republican supporters based upon conversations he had in the 111th Congress.

“I personally talked to nine Republicans who were ready to vote for the bill with transgender inclusion last year,” Frank said. “We lost [former Delaware Rep.] Mike Castle, but I believe we will have some co-sponsors. But I worked very hard on Republicans. We did have nine Republican hard commitments to vote with us against any effort to knock out transgender.”

Frank was referring to potential motion to recommit in the 111th Congress in which opponents of ENDA could have called for a vote on a portion of ENDA — such as the transgender protections — to return the legislation to committee and scuttle the bill.

“Without the transgender piece, you have a dozen, but on the transgender issue, we had, as I said, nine commitments and we’ll be approaching them to see how many of them will co-sponsor,” Frank added.

Asked whether the House introduction of ENDA would coincide with a Senate introduction, Frank said he was unsure.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference. What difference does it make whether it’s simultaneous or not? I don’t focus on things that have no significance.”

In the previous Congress, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced the Senate version of ENDA. It was the first time that a Senate version of ENDA had been introduced with transgender protections. On Friday, Julie Edwards, a Merkley spokesperson, said she had no updates for when ENDA would introduced in the Senate during the 112th Congress.

Even though Democrats remain in control of the Senate, Frank said he doesn’t think supporters of the legislation in that chamber will be able to pass ENDA in that chamber alone.

Asked about the prospects for Senate passage of ENDA, Frank replied, “No. Because first of all you need 6o votes. Secondly, the way it works — if there is zero chance of passing a controversial bill in the other house, the one house, people say, ‘Why should I do that?”‘

“It’s very hard to get members to vote for a controversial bill in any case, but to get them to vote for a controversial bill when there’s no chance of passing it in the other house becomes impossible,” Frank added.

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

  • Isn’t it interesting how back in 2007 when they were voting on the non-inclusive ENDA Barney Frank was saying that a vote on it that bill, even though it had no chance to become law at the time because of a certain Bush veto, would help make it easier to pass later with a more favorable Congress? Funny how he seems to have done a complete 180 on this, isn’t it?

  • “Particularly, we need people to do more lobbying and educating on the transgender issue…”

    Really, Barney? What the hell do you think people have been doing for the past gazillion years? How about taking a little responsibility for your own education?

  • I’m sorry to say but I don’t think ENDA with ever pass with Trans inclusion. There will always be a part of our society who are going to be opposed to people with male genitalia in their bathrooms and to having men in dress working at their places of employment. I feel they would have a better chance of passing ENDA with inclusion of Gender Identity if it was made clear to the members of congress that gender Identity was limit to only those who have been diagnosis by a trained gender professional and whom have been deemed to be TS women. This would cut out 90 % of the whack jobs and fetish freaks and allow those who truly need this protection to move forward with transition and get on with their lives.

  • To pass the House they will have to get 23 Repugnicans if they can round up all 195 Dummycrats. I have my doubts about that when we consider the Dummycrats who went AWOL in New York and Maryland. I think it would have made it through the House in 09 or last year if they had worked on Sen. Brown, they might have been able to break the Repugnican dam in the Senate.

  • Let’s be very clear to Log Cabin and GOProud that it’s the GOP that is standing in the way of ENDA becoming law.

  • I have to agree, ENDA can’t get passed until the GOP is bounced out of power in the House. Although, when the Dems were running everything with overwhelming numbers they couldn’t be bothered with taking up ENDA, so I don’t expect much from them if they come back either. They, had their chance and blew it! The GOP on the other hand is totally worthless and can’t be expected to do anything that would be remotely fair.

  • ENDA will never pass until Barney Frank is out of Congress.

  • Two years too late, Barney. Typical bull from a bullshi((er.

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