From The Washington Blade: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/10/30/enda-heats/
By Chris Johnson
on October 30, 2013
In the days after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Monday a floor vote would take place on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act before Thanksgiving, the Democratic caucus has become united on the bill, but some Republican senators are still undecided.
Following Reid’s announcement, the three Democratic holdouts — Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — signaled they’d support the legislation as Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) reportedly said he’s “inclined to support” the measure.
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) expressed opposition to ENDA in its current form and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) may be wavering following his support for the bill in committee.
Reid said during his routine weekly news conference on Tuesday that he feels “pretty good” about ENDA, but wasn’t more specific about the timing of the vote.
“I don’t know if we’ll do it next week but we’re going to do it this work period,” Reid said. “The lead Democrat on that has been [Sen.] Jeff Merkley of Oregon and he said earlier today he has 59 supporters. So, that’s pretty good. That’s counting a new senator on Thursday.”
The bill, which has languished in Congress in various versions since the 1970s, would prohibit businesses from discriminating against or firing workers for being LGBT.
Merkley, ENDA’s chief sponsor, was optimistic when speaking with the Washington Blade on Capitol Hill about whether he thinks the bill will pass the Senate.
“I think it will,” Merkley said. “There’s just a tremendous sense that this is an issue of fairness, an issue of equality under our Constitution, an issue of opportunity. If you don’t have a chance to have fairness in getting a job, you really don’t have a fair chance to live the American dream.”
Merkley wouldn’t predict the number of votes that ENDA will receive on the Senate floor and deferred details about the timing of the vote to Democratic leadership, but said “momentum continues to build.”
Following Nelson’s signal earlier Tuesday that he would become the 54th sponsor of ENDA, Pryor, in a development first reported by Arkansas Times, announced he’d vote for the legislation on the floor. Michael Teague, a Pryor spokesperson, confirmed to the Blade that Pryor “will vote ‘yes’ on ENDA.”
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