Two weeks ago, Congress resumed its session after the Easter break, and a whip count began to determine whether there are enough votes for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
We need 216 votes to pass the bill (at least until some of the current vacancies are filled).
Speaker Pelosi's office has long claimed that no whip count can take place until the bill is marked up, and the bill's language is finalized.
But we're taking a whip count anyway, and I hear that Rep. Tammy Baldwin is taking the lead on this process.
This whip count is obviously crucial, because if there are not enough votes found for ENDA, it will never see the light of day.
So with no further ado, with no more hints and dog whistles, without delays or ambiguities, here are the preliminary results of the whip count.
I could tell you. But then I'd have to killya, as the old joke goes.
In fact, I can't tell you, because I don't know. It is a big secret.
Why it's a big secret is another question entirely.
So I'll give you my guess as to what the number will be. We could have a pool. Whoever comes closest to the actual number of House votes when ENDA is voted on wins a prize. Put your guess in the comments to this post (without going over) by midnight tonight. (I used to use this trick with my son when he was little. "What prize?" he would ask excitedly. "It's a secret," I would say solemnly, since I had no prize in mind, "but trust me, you'll like it." Since he was about 4 years old, he wasn't hard to please, so I usually wound up telling the truth. Hope you're not too picky.) One entry per person. First one counts.
While there has been no communication with the community about how this whip count is going, there are leaks to the press. Yesterday, an article appeared in Roll Call, a top Capitol Hill newspaper, suggesting that Republicans were bailing on ENDA. I couldn't read the article, because it was in a subscription-only section of the paper. (Only $500 if you act now!)
My initial thought was that, since there were only three or four Republicans on the bill to begin with, the loss couldn't be very significant. The Family Research Council came out with an article late yesterday discussing the Roll Call article, and said that Representatives Biggert, Ryan (CA) and Campbell (WI) expressed reservations.
Biggert is a loss, as she was a co-sponsor, but Ryan and Campbell were never on my list as yeses, though they voted in favor of ENDA in 2007. But their votes against the hate crimes bill made it obvious that they were not going to be in favor of an inclusive ENDA. Thus, I don't really see much slippage from Republicans on ENDA. So I'm taking my likely yeses down from 224 to 223.
In fact, there's been progress since March 31, when I wrote a blog post on the 27 uncommitted members of the House. At that time, we had 198 co-sponsors and 221 likely yes votes. We're down to 24 uncommitted now, with 202 co-sponsors and 223 likely yes votes.
But we'll wind up with more than 223. I think we'll get about half of those uncommitted votes: 12 to be exact. And my guess is that we'll lose the three other Republicans now listed as likely yeses. So my number for the pool is 232.
Now if you're a really smart cookie, you'll make your guess as to the whip count in the comments below, and then call your Representative (202-224-3121) to make sure the numbers come out your way.
Oh, and there was another article in Roll Call yesterday about ENDA, this time by the estimable Lisa Mottet of the Task Force. It's worth a read. Good for Roll Call. They're really trying to cover both sides of the issue.