The champion of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the U.S. House is joining the choir of those who assert that the bill would pass — if Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) allows it to come to the floor.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, predicted during an interview with the Washington Blade Friday that ENDA would pass the House and said the next step for the bill is to pressure Republican leaders to bring it to the floor. He added that a number of undeclared Republicans have privately told him they’d vote “yes.”
“The next step is, of course, to continue to apply pressure to the speaker and the majority leader to bring it to the floor, where I’m confident it has enough support to pass,” Polis said. “The best way to do that is to demonstrate it has that support and continuing to add co-sponsors, particularly more Republican co-sponsors to ENDA so that we can have a stronger case to make that we need to bring it before the House to the floor for a vote.”
Although he acknowledged that the House has 13 months remaining in the current congressional calendar, Polis said “it would be nice to act sooner” because as Election Day draws near in November 2014, lawmakers will spend less time in Washington.
Polis said his assessment that the House would pass ENDA is based on the 10 Republicans in the Senate who joined all 54 Democrats present in voting for the measure on Thursday. ENDA would prohibit most employers from discriminating against LGBT workers.
“Slightly less than a quarter of Republicans in the Senate voted for it,” Polis said. “That would be similar in the House. About 20 percent of the Republicans would vote for it, which would give it the majority it needed to pass. A number of Republicans have told me on the floor they would vote for it; they’re not ready to add their name as co-sponsors. But they’re strongly supportive of this direction.”
Polis envisions that the House would pass ENDA with “between 20 and 40 votes — possibly more,” which he said was along the lines of the margin for House passage of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization earlier this year. That bill, which included explicit protections for LGBT victims of domestic violence, passed the House in February by a 286-138 vote.
“I think [ENDA] would win by a sizable majority in the House as the Violence Against Women Act did, which included gays and lesbians,” Polis said. “I’m confident that it would pass by that margin.”
According to the Polis, the best way to pressure Republicans to bring ENDA to the floor is the continued growth of co-sponsors for the bill.
“We have 5 Republican co-sponsors and gaining 20 or more is the best way to pressure Republican leadership to bring ENDA up for a vote,” Polis said.
Reps. Terry Sewell (D-Ala.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) both signaled this week they’re coming on board as co-sponsors, according to Polis’ office, bringing the total number of sponsors to 196. That’s just 22 votes short of 218 necessary to pass the legislation on the House floor.
By predicting that ENDA would pass the Republican-controlled House if it came to the floor despite the opposition stated by Boehner earlier this week, Polis joins others who’ve make similar predictions like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the Human Rights Campaign. Speaking with the Washington Blade prior to the ENDA vote in the Senate, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), ENDA’s chief sponsor in that chamber, said the Senate-passed version of ENDA “would pass the House.”
Polis said the process for bringing the legislation to the floor would either be House leadership bringing the bill directly to the floor or regular order after a committee vote in the House Education & The Workforce Committee, but Polis said his preference is the former.
“It can go through committee as a House bill, in which case amendments would very likely be added that could change the bill, and it could pass the House, or, the preferred route, which is what we needed on the Violence Against Women Act, is we simply took up the Senate version under a closed rule with no additional amendments and passed it,” Polis said. “That would certainly be the easiest route to achieve a successful result.”
The Education & The Workforce Committee seems as opposed to bringing ENDA to the floor as Boehner is. Even after the calls from Polis and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) to hold a hearing on ENDA, the committee has remained silent and didn’t immediately respond to a request from the Washington Blade to discuss moving the bill following the Senate vote.
Asked if having 10 Senate Republicans vote for ENDA would encourage House Republicans to do the same, Polis emphasized public support for measures barring LGBT workplace discrimination, which one recent poll showed at 69 percent, would be the driving factor.
“I think there are some members of Congress who want to vote for it because their constituents want it and demand it,” Polis said. “There are gay and lesbian families across America, they want to know that they can’t be fired from their jobs because of who they love, and they let their members of Congress know that — Democrat or Republican. That’s why there’s such broad and immense support on the Democratic side and why it has increased on the Republican side.”
Polis was generally dismissive about ideas for workaround strategies to bring ENDA up on the House floor if leadership doesn’t act, but acknowledged a discharge petition is an option if “the normal process” doesn’t work.
“We’ll have to work with them to schedule it for consideration on the floor, or if the committee, the Education & The Workforce Committee, continues to refuse to schedule it, then there is that avenue available called the discharge petition,” Polis said. “It’s not one that often leads to success, that would be more a final attempt, if we’re unable to get it through the normal order.”
Asked whether inserting ENDA into a larger vehicle, such as the defense authorization bill, would be a strategy to consider, Polis maintained all options are on the table.
“We will look at all the legislative tactics available to us, including different vehicles that we can use to protect gay and lesbian Americans, including discharge petitions,” Polis said. “So, all the different legislative tactics under the rules of the House would be considered to move this important legislation forward.”
Polis, who became the first public official to call on President Obama to issue an executive order barring anti-LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors, said that option remains viable for the White House if the House Republican leadership refuses to bring up the bill.
“We want to protect all people in America, but if Congress is unable to accomplish that, I continue to advocate that the president should move forward to issue an executive order to ban workplace discrimination for federal contractors,” Polis said.
Polis called Michaud after coming out
Also during the interview, Polis addressed the recent announcement from Maine Congressman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud that he’s gay. Polis said the news was a surprise to him.
“I had no idea, and called and congratulated him,” Polis said. “It must have been a heavy cross all these years, having to worry about who knew and who didn’t know. I’m sure it’s an enormous load off of his shoulders, and I think he’ll be an even more effective public servant — both in Congress and potentially as governor of Maine.”
The announcement from Michaud, who’s served in Congress since 2003, ends Polis’ distinction of being the most senior openly gay member of the U.S. House. The Colorado Democrat started serving his first term in 2009. Still, Polis remains the longest-sitting member of the House who has served in his seat while being openly gay.
Polis said he hasn’t yet discussed the possibility with Michaud about being a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus as are other openly LGB members of the House, but suggested those conversations may happen when the House goes back into session next week.
“We’ve been in our districts, and I’ll be seeing him for the first time next week,” Polis said. “But when the news came out, I called and we had a nice conversation where I congratulated him and wished him well — and assured him I didn’t think this would be more than a couple days story and said I think people will respect his integrity and his honesty.”
Polis said he hopes Michaud’s announcement will inspire other gay members of Congress to come out.
“There’s not political reprecussions at all for people being honest about their orientation,” Polis said. “Hopefully, members of Congress who have chosen to hold that kind of information close will see that it’s simply easier to live an honest life and be honest with your constituents.”
Asked whether he knows of other closeted gay members of Congress, Polis said he hasn’t asked any of them about their sexual orientation.
“I’ve never asked,” Polis said. “Working with our colleagues, unless they bring it up, you really wouldn’t ask that kind of thing. And I certainly never discussed this before with Mike Michaud.”
The evolution of the open house
The more sophisticated the advertising, the more the events flourished
In the early 20th century, there were no exclusive agreements between a seller and a real estate agent. Any broker who knew of someone wanting to sell could participate in an “open listing” by planting his sign in the yard of that person and competing with agents from other brokerages who did the same. To the victor who obtained a buyer went the spoils of commission.
The rules began to change in 1919, when being a real estate broker now required a license. An agent might handle only one property at a time exclusively, but an “open for inspection” period could be used to introduce a model home or new community to the buying population.
According to the National Association of Realtors, Dallas homebuilder, Howdy Howard, hosted one of the most successful open houses of all time in the 1950s. During the first 12 days of the event, an estimated 100,000 people attended, drawn by free sodas and the ultimate prize for the buyer – a new Cadillac.
Soon, brokers began hiring additional agents who could handle multiple properties. Unlike Howard’s marathon open house, agents would now host them for a few hours at a time, usually on a Sunday, to whet the appetite of the buyer pool.
Classified advertisements with a description of a property would be placed in a local newspaper and potential buyers would review them with their morning coffee to decide which houses to visit later in the day.
Marketing in newspapers went from a few lines of black and white text to a photo of a home’s exterior, to a multi-page spread that included both photos of houses and the agents who represented them.
The more sophisticated the advertising became, the more the open house flourished as a marketing tool, not only for the home itself, but also for the agent and the brokerage. It allowed agents to prospect for buyers for that home and others, and converse with neighbors who might want to sell their homes as well.
Soon, the sign-in sheet was born, used by the agent to capture the contact information of a potential client or customer and to let the seller know who had visited his home. While sign-in sheets or cards are still used, some agents have gravitated to electronic applications, using a tablet computer instead of paper for the same purpose.
Fast forward to the early 2000s in D.C., when open houses became the primary source of showing property. An agent would enter a property into the multiple listing service (MLS) on a Thursday, entertain no showings until Saturday, host an open house on Sunday afternoon, and call for offers either Sunday night or Monday. The open house allowed agents to send their buyers rather than accompany them and serve multiple clients at once.
The delayed showing day strategy referenced above has since been supplanted by the MLS’s Coming Soon status. Agents can now email or text links to upcoming properties to their clients in advance of showing availability and the clients can view photos, read property descriptions and disclosures, and schedule future visits accordingly.
Enter COVID-19. Due to the proliferation of the virus and the subsequent lockdown, the real estate world had to accommodate new public health requirements.
One of the first things to go was the open house. Even agent showings were constrained, with visitors limited to an agent plus two people and additional requirements for wearing masks and disposable shoe covers and gloves.
Overlapping appointments were not allowed, showings were limited to 15 to 30 minutes, and bottles of hand sanitizer sprung up on kitchen counters everywhere.
Ultimately, technology and ingenuity provided new marketing avenues for agents that included 3-D virtual open houses, Facetime and Duo viewings, videos, property websites and QR codes. Many of these marketing techniques remain, even though traditional open houses are coming back post-lockdown.
But are they really necessary? Certainly not for all types of properties.
I believe the days of using a public open house to procure a buyer are limited. Agent security has become a concern and the desire for in-person viewings during a specific day or time has waned.
On the other hand, Internet marketing and social media have a much wider reach, so much so that some people now feel comfortable buying a home – probably the most expensive item they will ever purchase – without even stepping into it until after closing.
After all, if we can work in sweatpants or pajamas while Zooming corporate meetings, how can naked virtual reality house hunting be far behind?
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.
D.C. homebuyers face hyper competitive market
Sellers in driver’s seat as region faces record low inventory
With job growth rising during a period of aggressive government spending and historically low mortgage rates, the spring 2021 market sits at the lowest level of inventory since 1983.
Homebuyers in the D.C. area continue to face an incredibly competitive market. This is truly a seller’s market.
Lack of Inventory: Washington, D.C. has been in a gradually worsening housing shortage since the Great Recession. The area hasn’t had a six-month supply of homes for sale for almost 12 years. Now, we add a global pandemic that seriously altered what homeowners want out of their home, Wall Street on fire, and insanely low interest rates and we get a surge in motivated homebuyers.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of homes nationwide reached a record low in December 2020, with just 1.07 million properties on the market. The DC metro area is even worse off than the national average with only one month’s supply of homes. That means if new listings were completely dried up, there would be no homes available in four weeks. On average, D.C. homes have been selling within 11 days, which is 15 days faster than this time in 2020.
Seller’s Market: The time is now for Washington, D.C. homeowners to seriously consider selling their homes if they have played with the idea. Experts predict 2021 will be another strong housing market with an increase in demand from existing homebuyers in search of larger homes and buyers who delayed purchasing a home due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.
Zillow forecasts a nearly 30 percent annual growth in homes for sale in 2021. This would be the largest home sales growth since 1983. Zillow’s annual report stated, “Home price appreciation will reach its fastest pace since the Great Recession, as the inventory crunch continues to pit buyers against each other, competing for a scarce number of homes for sale.”
D.C.’s Current Market: According to the NAR, in March of 2021, D.C. home prices had increased 4.1% compared to March 2020, for a median price of $635,000. There were 1,004 homes sold in March 2021, an increase from 842 at this time last year.
We are seeing many homes receive multiple offers within just a few days in the D.C. area. The average home is selling a little above 1% of the listing price and many hot homes are seeing large bidding wars and selling for 3% or more above the listing price; 42.7% of D.C. homes sold above list price in March of 2021. That is a 13.4% increase from last year at this time. Active inventory for March of 2021 was 1,457 homes, down 9% from March 2020. March 2021 also saw 991 homes sell in the D.C. area, an increase of 31% from February of 2021. March 2021’s total homes sold had a 19% increase from March 2020.
Buying a Home: In the current seller’s market, buying a home can be like playing a chess match. You need to know the rules and be strategic. It can seem more like winning than purchasing a home right now. If you find a home you want to buy, chances are you won’t be the only one making an offer. It is a seller’s market everywhere in the country right now and D.C. is no different. Be sure you know what you qualify for and what you can afford.
Conclusion: The NAR and the Mortgage Bankers Association both project prices of existing homes to increase 5.9% in 2021. This may mean buyers will have to be more flexible than in the past. For example, making an offer contingent upon the sale of a current home may be harder than before. It’s also possible you will pay more than the list price. The D.C. real estate market is on fire and many homes are off the market within 24 hours of listing. For sellers, if you have been thinking of selling your home there is no better time than the present.
Khalil El-Ghoul is Principal Broker for Glass House Real Estate. Reach him at [email protected] or 571-235-4821. Glass House Real Estate is a modern, more affordable way to buy and sell a home in the D.C. Metro area. Learn more about what makes us different at glassshousere.com.
Still the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms
Crossovers keep wending their way into our driveways—and our hearts. After overtaking sedans, station wagons and minivans as the hottest vehicles in dealer showrooms, crossovers are now taking aim at the most quintessential of American rides: the muscle car. With naughty looks and hepped-up engines, the two dynamite crossovers below are sure to blow your mind—and just maybe your budget.
DODGE DURANGO SRT HELLCAT
Mpg: 12 city/17 highway
0 to 60 mph: 3.5 seconds
For more than 20 years, the Dodge Durango has been a solid if nondescript family hauler. But this year the automaker jazzed up its midsize crossover with brawnier styling and the latest tech toys. And for the first time, Dodge is offering a limited-edition Durango SRT Hellcat—a high-test model with the same hellacious Hemi V8 engine in the Challenger super coupe and Charger sport sedan. With 710 horsepower, this blazingly fast crossover can kick some serious ass, outrunning many a Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The upgraded suspension provides more dynamic handling and cornering, as well as selectable steering for better grip. For straight-line acceleration and to prevent nasty fish-tailing, I simply flipped the “launch control” toggle switch. The massive Brembo brakes also were stellar, with stop-on-a-dime performance and flaming red calipers on each wheel. Another plus: the iconic Hellcat exhaust rumble could be heard blocks away—music to the ears of any auto aficionado. As with all Durangos, this bruiser has best-in-class towing capacity of 8,700 pounds.
Inside, there’s plenty of space, including more room than expected for third-row passengers. The steering wheel, dash, and trim accents now have trendy Euro styling, though it’s more VW than upscale Audi. And you can opt for flashy seatbelts and premium seats in a color Dodge calls Demonic Red, along with black velour floor mats and a soft-touch headliner. Other features include heated/ventilated seats, a large 10.1-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone integration and the ability to pair two Bluetooth devices at once. Options include a 19-speaker Harman Kardon stereo and rear-seat entertainment with Blue-Ray player. Alas, this is a limited-edition model and all 2,000 of these speed demons quickly sold out months ago. But there’s still hope: Dodge allocated some of the racy Durangos to select dealerships, so you can call around to see if any are still available. And you can always try social media to find a lucky Durango Hellcat owner who just might be willing to sell this rollicking ride, if the price is right.
LAND ROVER DEFENDER X
Mpg: 17 city/22 highway
0 to 60 mph: 5.7 seconds
For decades, both the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover have been ubiquitous in the United States. Not so the smaller and less ostentatious Defender, often seen as a work-horse vehicle in BritBox reruns or action flicks like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. But last year the Defender returned to these shores after nearly a quarter-century hiatus.
Available in two- or four-door models, both Defenders start around $50,000. My test vehicle was the new top-of-the-line Defender X, which added—yikes!—another $35,000 to the sticker price. The look on these crossovers is boxy chic, which allows for a ginormous amount of headroom, legroom and cargo space. Land Rover also added extra stowage areas and cubby holes, as well as transom windows and a sliding panoramic sunroof to keep things airy. While the cabin may be sparse and full of solid plastics, the walnut trim on the center console and door panels is quite elegant.
Land Rovers have a somewhat infamous reputation for less-than-stellar electronics, but the 10-inch touchscreen was crystal clear and synced up seamlessly with the infotainment system. Tricked out with a jet-black roof, hood, and side cladding, the press vehicle I test drove was painted a haughty Eiger Gray Metallic. It also came with thick all-terrain tires, adding to a slightly menacing vibe. A full-size spare is conveniently mounted on the vertical tailgate, which swings completely open like a refrigerator door for easy access. The Defender X may not be as lightning quick as a Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, but it’s still plenty fast. And this brute can tackle the toughest of terrains, thanks to locking differentials, hill-descent control and a standard air suspension that can raise the chassis 11.5 inches above the ground. Overall, the Defender X can’t quite hide its refined roots as a tony Land Rover. But as with the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, this burly crossover flexes some serious muscle.
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