Guest Blogger

Lame Duck ENDA: Rep Polis 'Optimistic' & Sen Merkley 'Hopeful'

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 04, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, ENDA, Jared Polis, Jeff Merkley, LGBT employment rights

Editors' note: Pam Daniels is a writer and activist with 23 years experience in broadcast news and media including the staff of a former Governor.

pam-daniels.png"The Speaker has said that she plans to bring it up this session so I certainly believe that that's what she plans to do and I'm optimistic we'll have a vote on [an inclusive ENDA] in the lame duck session," said Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) at the beginning of my interview with him for this guest post on Bilerico Project. Polis immediately added that he's "not optimistic that we can pass it out of the Senate but hopefully we'll have a strong showing out of the House."

Polis indicated that the House committee vote could occur within the first week of a lame duck session.

I asked Representative Polis if a "Motion to Recommit" might be put forth by the Republican leadership and he answered that the Republicans "might do it to take out the transgender protection and just leave protection for gays and lesbians and then we would have to defeat that with a majority vote."

Polis added that the vote on a motion to recommit "could go either way; it's very close. On every issue (the Republicans) try to figure out the issue that would most divide Democrats, you know, and score the most political points."

If a recommit motion on ENDA is defeated, Polis said he expects it "to pass handily" in a final floor vote. He warned that without Senate passage in the lame duck session we'd have to start all over with a new Congress.

I asked Rep. Polis the inevitable "what if" question: What if an inclusive ENDA doesn't pass this year? What words of encouragement would he offer to the LGBT community?

Polis replied, "We should be motivated to get rid of members of the House and Senate that stand in the way [of passing ENDA] and [replace] them with members who support passing [ENDA]."

I also interviewed the main sponsor of ENDA in the Senate, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and he characterized Rep Polis' optimism for a lame duck session floor vote in the House as "tremendous news." Merkley said he's "hopeful" for passage in the Senate but laid out the array of likely obstacles for even getting a floor vote in his chamber.

Merkley confirmed that at present both the House and Senate ENDA bills are identical in language so any change in the language of the House bill at final House passage would present some complications for Senate passage during the short lame duck session.

The gauntlet that ENDA must traverse to obtain final floor passage in the Senate is daunting to say the least. While Senator Merkley sees no obstacle to getting ENDA out of committee, in the senate the republicans would likely try to delay, if not defeat, ENDA with a "motion to proceed," which if not passed would prevent the full senate from even debating the bill.

Merkley characterized any Republican motion to proceed as "completely unacceptable." He added that a Republican motion to proceed to prevent even debating the bill on the Senate floor would be a "completely undemocratic thing to do" and warned that ENDA would need 60 votes just to pass the motion to proceed before it could be debated and passed, again with 60 votes on the Senate floor.

If the Republicans don't offer any "motion to proceed," then ENDA would only need a simple majority vote to begin floor debate.

Sen Merkley also wanted the LGBT community to understand that we shouldn't use the recent DADT vote as a template for how many votes we should get for final passage of ENDA in the Senate because DADT repeal was tied to a defense spending bill that gave many members, including ENDA co-sponsor Susan Collins (R-ME), an easy excuse to vote against DADT. Merkley said the recent DADT vote "certainly wasn't a test vote" on ENDA.

I asked him directly how many votes we have for final passage, and he said, "I think we definitely have 51, but to get to 60 takes everyone who's undecided. But here's the thing, if you don't have a vote on the floor people never have to take a stand and for many folks who've never taken a stand we'll never know where they are."

Merkley continued, "It is outrageous that people can be discriminated against in one of the most fundamental aspects of our lives which is the right to earn a living."


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We don't have 60 votes in The US Senate for anything LGBT-related.

As far as anything happening after the Mid-terms, three Senators will be sworn in immediately and Republicans are currently winning those races. Bad news.

As of today we have (at best) 57 votes in the US Senate. After the mid-terms we will have only 51 or 52.

The only solution is to replace US Senators or change the minds of their constituents - something we are not doing.

There is no "political solution" to LGBT equality. Soon, it will be 1994 all over again.

For once I agree with Andrew. ENDA is dead for the foreseeable future unless sexual identity is heaved under the bus and even then maybe it is still DOA. Barney has made his point. He got burned by the community reaction a few years ago and has now exacted his revenge.

With 2 GOP and one anti-GLB Blue Dog - or 3 GOP - new members immediately seated, fergedaboudit.

It took a lot of effort, and was far too obvious, but the DNC has managed the near-impossible task of having super-majorities in both houses, plus the presidency, and doing nothing. Nada. Zip.

Yes, it was deliberate. But they had to really work at it, again, far too obvious that it was deliberate.

Right now, anything that either Pelosi, Biden of Frank says can be basically ignored as just another lie in an unbroken string of lies.

OK, next opportunity is 2020, assuming a 2-term disastrous GOP presidency after Obama's 1-term. We must start work on that assumption, and draw up plans accordingly to elect pro-GLBT congresscritters - party affiliation doesn't matter - so that it can happen then.

Of course, it might be 2028 instead. And we can thank the present mob in power for that.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 5, 2010 8:13 AM

Zoe, such pessimism!

If we create a militant, activist, internally democratic and externally non-Democratic mass movement we can win quickly and easily and enroll a host of real allies in the process. Mass action is a proven winner.

But as long as we rely on Democrats and Republicans we'll get nowhere and all we'll have to show for our efforts are tire tracks on our foreheads. The Democrats are not our friends, they're enemies.

Bill - even the most pessimistic of us didn't predict that it would be stuck in committee in October 2010. Delayed from being voted on in the Senate, yes, but at least passed in the House, and months ago.

And in case you hadn't noticed, there's a "a militant, activist, internally democratic and externally non-Democratic mass movement" out there. A genuine one. It's called the Tea Party, and they're not exactly sympathetic to our aims.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 6, 2010 9:39 AM

1) Many of "us", the realists, predicted that Obama and the Democrats would torpedo our agenda with a little help from their Republicans allies.

2) In case you hadn't noticed the Teabaggers are not internally democratic. I'm sorry to hear that you oppose creating a GLBT movement that's militant, activist, internally democratic and externally non-Democratic because you appear to equate that with the Teabaggers.

3) Democrats, Republicans and Teabaggers are our proven enemies. Mass action is proven strategy.

Polis has told me repeatedly that ENDA would pass both the House and Senate. And that it would come out of committee in [insert month here]. He's full of crap.

So it passes the House. Big deal. That doesn't make it the law and it doesn't help anyone either.

Agreed. Polis has sung this song a few times before.

The comments from our so-called leaders are such sad, lame, bullshine. Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.

That's right - pee on them, instead.

Its election time again and they are pulling our strings....again.

Has anyone actually read the house version? Is there provisions in it allowing employers to qualify a transgender persons transitional stage? The last I knew there was and if so the democrats spinelessness will insure ENDA'a failure, again.

An ENDA passed with language specifically denying our humanity is travesty of unequal proportions.