Senate Passes Non-Discrimination Act, But Will the House Follow Suit?

By Eric B. Meyer

In the end, it wasn’t close at all.

By a final vote of 64-32, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA, passed the Senate on Thursday.

All 52 Democrats, plus 2 Independents and 10 Republicans voted in favor of the bill. Among the notable yes votes was Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Indeed, minutes before voting yes on ENDA, Sen.Toomey saw his proposed amendment to the bill, which would have created exceptions for certain religious groups, defeated.

Toomey joined Sens. Kelly Ayotte of  New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mark Kirk  of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio as the Republicans supporting the bill.

Bill faces slim prospects in the House

In fact, Toomey was the only Pennsylvania senator to vote in favor of the bill. Democratic Sen. Robert Casey missed the vote to be with his wife who recently had heart surgery. Sen. Casey was a staunch advocate of the bill.

The Senate’s newest addition, New Jersey’s Democrat Cory Booker, as well as fellow New Jersey Democrat Robert Mendendez, were also among the yes votes.

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ENDA now heads over to the House of Representatives, where the chances of passage appear bleak. Although President Obama has called upon House Republicans to pass the bill, Republican Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is on record as opposing the bill, believing that it will encourage frivolous litigation and cost jobs in small businesses.

Not scheduled for a House vote

And although the House previously passed a version of the bill in 2007, yesterday, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, further quelled any hope that the House would send this matter to the president for signature:

The bill is currently not scheduled in the House. I hope Majority Leader (Harry) Reid soon addresses the dozens of House-passed bills that have been ignored in the Senate that create jobs, improve education and create opportunity while Americans struggle to find a good-paying job.”

So, it appears that this historical workplace discrimination bill is in jeopardy.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.

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