Update: When I wrote this post, I was unaware that Senator Reid had enthusiastically endorsed ENDA in a public speech reported on in another blog. While I still have questions, it is important to admit when one is wrong, especially as regards allies like Senator Reid. I have inserted emendations below in italics. I also direct readers to the comment section, where the details of this are discussed. I owe Senator Reid an apology, and I am awaiting all of the facts from his office.
As we all know by now, the real fight on ENDA is going to be in the Senate, where a supermajority of 60 is likely to be necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster.
There are nine Senators who have privately indicated that they are supporting S1584, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, but who have not come out publicly as co-sponsors of the bill, including, surprisingly, the majority leader of the Senate, Nevada Senator Harry Reid.
The majority leader has tremendous power in the Senate. He can move Senators in a particular direction, both by the power of his example and by the power of his office as the leader of the party. So why isn't Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid publicly supporting ENDA? As noted, he did make a public speech pledging support, and his position is he's not a cosponsor because, as Majority Leader, he usually don't sponsor legislation. However, I note that Senator Reid is listed as having co-sponsored 98 bills in this Congressional session.
What example is Senator Reid setting for the Democratic Party? What is suggested by his position on ENDA as the leader of the party?
I can understand that some Senators wish to support ENDA, and will vote for it, but do not wish to be co-sponsors. Co-sponsorship indicates a higher of level of support, and it's not for everybody.
I understand Senator Reid's position about the majority leader not co-sponsoring bills. But he's listed as a co-sponsor on 98 bills this session, including bills on the economy, education, immigration, and women's health. You can look it up at http://thomas.loc.gov - just click on his name under "Browse Bills by Sponsor." Why is it that the rule against co-sponsoring is invoked for our bill?
I seriously appreciate Senator Reid's support. I am devastated that I got my facts wrong about his support being private only, when he in fact made a public speech reported in another blog that I should have seen. But I'm not quite convinced about this rule against co-sponsoring.
At a time when there are many serious problems that the country must address, the majority leader's support is crucial to getting the bill to a vote. Why isn't Harry Reid publicly supporting ENDA? I don't know. But I'd sure like to find out. And if anyone is in a mood to bust my chops, saying that he is supporting ENDA, just not publicly, or just not as a co-sponsor, please note that a miss is as good as a mile when we're talking about the Senate majority leader. This is no time to pussyfoot around. We deserve Senator Reid's uncompromised and unqualified support, now, when it can do some good to get movement going in the Senate. As noted, he has been public recently about his support for ENDA, even though he is not co-sponsoring.
Please call Senator Harry Reid and thank him for his public support. I think you should ask him to co-sponsor the bill, but I leave that up to you. I believe the majority leader should show leadership on the issue of job equality.
Here's his telephone number: 202-224-3542 (click here for email)