After the sit-in at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office by GetEqual activists protesting inaction on ENDA, the Speaker's press secretary said, according to The Advocate, as he had told me the previous week:
"The Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes.
Now comes a report in The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News on Friday that Rep. Tammy Baldwin has counted the votes on ENDA and said there are enough to pass it.
"As someone who has actually counted the votes, I believe that there are," Baldwin said. "That's one of the things the LGBT Equality Caucus does is to [focus] attention to making sure we can tell [House] leadership, with accuracy, what the vote would be if they bring the measures up to the floor."
The article also had more to say about the ENDA sit-ins that occurred last Thursday.
Equally interesting is the report from DC Agenda about its brief on-street interview of Rep. George Miller, who chairs the House Committee on Education and Labor, where ENDA has been stalled for the past six months. Here's the quote from DC Agenda:
Moments after the arrested protesters were taken away, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) was seen walking along a nearby street. He chairs the House Education & Labor Committee, which is handling ENDA. Asked by DC Agenda when ENDA would advance to a markup, Miller replied, "Right after health care."
That's heartening. Of course, there is a ways to go with health care yet before it get signed into law, so his comment is ambiguous as to exactly when.
Here's the quote from SDGLN:
Pressure has grown dramatically in recent days for a spotlight on LGBT-related issues in Congress.
...Thursday afternoon, other activists with the group staged sit-ins in both the San Francisco and Washington, D.C., offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Capitol police arrested four of the protestors at Pelosi's Congressional office. San Francisco police arrested six people.
Responding to the protests, Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill released a statement saying, "The Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes."
It was during the Boston interview, five days earlier, that Baldwin said she had counted the votes on ENDA and DADT and believes the votes are there.
Baldwin was in Boston on March 13 to receive an award from the Fenway Health organization, a local LGBT community medical center.
The news that Rep. Baldwin has counted the votes and says there are enough accords with my own understanding of the facts on the matter, and contrary to what Speaker Nancy Pelosi's press secretary told me last week.
Here's what he said, as I reported in my post last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi: We Don't Have The Votes And I'm Not Helping:
Here's what I got from Speaker Pelosi's office last night: "The Speaker believes passing ENDA is a top priority and hopes that we can bring ENDA up as soon as possible. That being said, the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes."
When I pointed out that, according to my whip count, we have a majority in the House and Senate, I was told that the Committee has not yet marked up the bill, so there is nothing to be whipped. "I would add anytime when asked about unofficial whip counts that it's important to have the Committee product because you cannot accurately whip a hypothetical bill. Whipping a hypothetical bill yields only hypothetical results."
But according to that logic, how can one ever know if there are enough votes to move forward? Oh, I see, we have to first move forward to mark up the bill. But are there enough votes to justify moving forward to mark up the bill? I don't know, and it is apparently impossible to know, because one must first mark it up in order to determine whether there are enough votes to mark it up.
Circular logic. The Oracle at Delphi did better.
Last night on the Rachel Maddow show, Nancy Pelosi appeared for practically the full hour, discussing health reform. She said something that bears significantly on the issue of moving ENDA forward: "Every bill is a heavy lift. There is not one easy bill. And so the issue is, when you have the votes, you take the vote, and you win, but never expect to be easy."
In other words, if we have the votes on ENDA, move forward to a vote. How many times does it need to be said that WE HAVE A MAJORITY OF VOTES ON ENDA. IT IS DOCUMENTED AND CLEAR. MUST WE GO TO SPEAKER PELOSI'S OFFICE AND SHOW HER THE ROLL OF ENDA SUPPORTERS?
Okay, putting that aside, I asked whether the Speaker supports moving the bill forward to a markup now.
"The Speaker has absolute confidence in Chairman Miller to determine the appropriate timing for his committee's work on ENDA."
Okay, great, so I suppose that means that she's ready whenever Chairman George Miller is ready.
Madam Speaker, you said that "the right time to bring the measure to the floor will be when we have the votes." We have the votes. Get this bill marked up and ready to move to the floor.
No more delay.