Transgender advocates and allies across America gathered Tuesday on Capitol Hill in support of ENDA while opponents of Health Care Reform sounded an entirely different alarm. Both may see action as early as Sunday.
The ENDA support coalition was organized by the National Center for Transgender Equality, NCTE, as part of its National Policy Forum, "Moving Forward Together." More than 100 Congressional offices were lobbied to support a gender-identity inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
Workplace protections for sexual orientation and gender identity have been aruged and denied since first proposed in 1994.
Likewise, ultra-conservative Tea Partiers mobilized by a "Red Alert" swarmed Congressional and Senate buildings albeit in far superior numbers Tuesday. Their agenda was straightforward. Defeat healthcare reform at any cost with an uncompromising "Say No" message of fiscal gloom and doom.
During my three Congressional meetings on behalf of ENDA Tuesday a common theme emerged. The protracted partisan struggle for Health Care Reform was cited as the #1 reason vote-worthy legislation like ENDA has been tabled.
The "Party of No" - much like their feisty "Just Say No" constituents - has wreaked diversionary havoc aimed to impede the legislative process for more than a year. Strong-arm, bully tactics escalated to Town Hall scream-a-thons last summer.
Legislative business in the District of Columbia has been slowed to a nerve-wracking crawl ever since. The body of evidence is staggering. A backlog of almost 290 bills is pending in Congress. Movement of ENDA through Congressional committee is grounded by the same gridlock.
The good news is Thursday's release of the 10-year economic impact of HR 3590 and the "reconciliation" proposal on Health Care Reform. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that enacting both pieces of legislation would produce a net reduction in the Federal deficit of $138 billion from 2010-2019. It's precisely the shot in the arm Health Care Reform proponents and the Obama administration have long been seeking.
The federal deficit reducing outcome of Health Care Reform serves several functions. The money-saving news will to some degree mute fiscal conservative mouthpieces. If nothing else it derails the conservative argument of runaway government spending on Health Care.
More important, the CBO release offers a credible rationale for moderate Democrats to climb aboard Health Care Reform.The result could be a vote on Health Care Reform by Sunday. A favorable vote in turn would clear the runway for takeoff of many long grounded bills---like ENDA.