Six House Republicans who co-sponsor ENDA are calling on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to allow for the bill to come up for a vote before times runs out in the 113th Congress, possibly as an amendment to major defense spending legislation.
In a letter dated Dec. 3, the Republicans ask Boehner to allow a vote on ENDA “as part of any available legislative vehicle including the National Defense Authorization Act.”
“Here in the United States we value the quality of an individual’s work over who they are,” the letter states. “We already protect individuals from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. ENDA is necessary for fellow Americans who do not enjoy these same protections. In 29 states, an estimated four million workers can be legally fired because of their sexual orientation. Standing up for the individual liberty of workers is the right thing to do. No one should be denied a job, denied a promotion, or fired because of whom they are.”
Signers of letter are Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Charles Dent (R-Pa.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.) and Jon Runyan (R-N.J.).
Last year, the Senate passed a version of ENDA on a bipartisan basis by a 64-32 vote, but the House never brought up the measure for a vote and is set to adjourn on Dec. 11. It’s unlikely the bill will move after that time when Congress reconvenes given major election wins by Republican on Election Day.
The office of Boehner, who has previously said he sees “no basis or no need” for ENDA and reportedly said there’s “no way” the bill would come up for a vote this year, didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment on the letter.
It’s hard to see how the efforts from these six House Republican will succeed. Capitol Hill sources close to ENDA have already told the Blade it’s unlikely to come up before Congress is out given the current political climate. The House Rules Committee was set on the same day the letter was sent to consider the defense authorization bill before it heads to the House floor.
Two House Republicans co-sponsors of ENDA didn’t sign the letter: Reps. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) and Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). Their offices didn’t respond to a request to comment on why their names were absent. One of the two, Coffman, has previously objected to passing an LGBT measure for gay veterans benefits as part of unrelated larger legislation.
Fred Sainz, vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, said the letter “makes it clear that the ball is now in Speaker Boehner’s court” and his organization appreciates the support of ENDA’s House Republican co-sponsors.
“The Speaker has the power to reflect the consensus opinion of a majority of Americans that support workplace protections by immediately bringing ENDA to the floor for a vote,” Sainz said. “If he did that, ENDA would pass and be law by the end of the week. Let’s see what the Speaker does.”