The House Committee on Education and Labor, which was due to mark up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) on Wednesday of this week, has announced that it is postponing its markup. A terse statement on the Committee's website states simply that "This markup has been postponed."
I had posted on Wednesday about rumors of a possible slow-down on ENDA. DC insiders said there was no slow-down, and that the bill is "on track." However, it appeared, after comparing statements made when the bill was introduced with later statements, that the House vote, initially thought to be in October or November, was now being discussed in a "December or February" timeframe. That would put the bill up before the Senate during midterm election campaigns, which could make it more difficult to gain support among conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans.
Since the House is not in session next week, the earliest date for markup would be in December. That would make it difficult to obtain a House vote on ENDA before year's end.
It is my understanding that the postponement is occurring to make certain technical amendments. Given that the purpose of the markup procedure is to offer such amendments, it is difficult to understand why markup has been postponed. The bill's language has been available in substantially the same form since 2007, when it was last voted on by the House. It is likely that Rep. Miller is taking his cues from LGBT House leaders.
In the meantime, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act is moving forward to markup in the House, and may be a bill that seems easier to pass in the Senate. Because of the pressure on legislators and the administration to pass something to mollify those participating in the DNC boycott, the DPBO may be seen as an easier task than ENDA.
A person who answered at the Committee's office tonight confirmed that the bill's markup has been postponed. She said that ENDA is a priority for Chairman Miller, and that the postponement occurred because the Committee felt that some additional time was needed to address issues pertinent to the bill. She said that there was no additional information available about why the markup was postponed, or what those issues might have been. She also stated that there is "no clear date" for rescheduling.
However, the Advocate's story tonight quoted an unnamed staffer who said that the markup would be scheduled for sometime after Thanksgiving.