The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, otherwise known as ENDA or the bill that lives to die each year, got a nice boost on Wednesday. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Employment Committee voted 15-7 to move the bill forward to the full Senate. The last time the bill passed out of committee was eleven years ago. The vote this time came with a minimum of debate, which is either an indication of how acceptable workplace protections are or how little interest the Senate is placing on the measure.
What makes this time different, though, is the level of Republican support. Mark Kirk of Ilinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Orrin Hatch (!) of Utah all voted in favor of the measure, suggesting that the nondiscrimination measure has become relatively palatable to the GOP in an era when the heated debate is about marriage equality.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promises a vote on ENDA “soon.” Even if the measure passes the Senate, however, it is almost certain to die in the House, where conservative Republicans call the shots. Looks like ENDA will be back again in another Congress.