16 Senate Dems Uncommitted on ENDA as House Eyes Vote

House Democrats are preparing to begin debating the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in advance of a vote, Roll Call reports:

Barney The fact that the measure passed the House last Congress without the transgender provision “helps our Members understand that this is not toxic, because nobody that I know of lost any race because of it,” Frank said. “Secondly, we have done some education on the transgender issue, which we hadn’t done before.” Two years ago, he said, the matter was “too new.”

But one House Republican leadership aide said Democrats are proceeding with the ban, officially the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, at their own political peril. “The fact that the Democrat leadership are about to make 60-plus vulnerable Members vote for transgendered protections shows just how out of touch Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] is with the reality facing these Members,” this aide said, predicting the provision would prompt the majority to lose the support of Republicans who backed it in the last Congress.

The broader version of the bill, introduced in June by Frank, has gathered 199 co-sponsors, including six Republicans — support that the measure’s backers pointed to in making the case it is already close to clearing the 216-vote hurdle needed for passage. “We feel confident that we have the majority,” said Allison Herwitt, legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, which has helped coordinate lobbying for a discrimination ban extended to include gender identity. “The Speaker is interested in looking at, after the health care vote and after the recess, is everybody in the same place?”

An informal whip team was assembled this week to survey the members.

"One concern backers are working to head off as they measure support for the comprehensive approach: the threat of a narrowly drawn Republican alternative that simply strikes protections for transgender people. 'We want to make sure we can withstand any potential recommit,' said [Rep. Jared] Polis, referring to the Republican procedural maneuver that could complicate the Democratic endgame on the measure.

More at Roll Call

It's less clear what will happen to the bill once it reaches the Senate:

"Multiple sources have told DC Agenda that supporters in the Senate don’t appear to have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster that Republican opponents are expected to invoke to block an up or down floor vote….With the 2010 congressional elections fast approaching, only two GOP senators have so far committed to vote for ENDA, making it essential for supporters to line up most of the 16 uncommitted Democrats to secure the bill’s passage in the Senate.

Said Barney Frank: I think the best thing I can do about the Senate and ENDA is to get it passed [in the House] and send it over there.”

A few more details: 

"As of this week, there were 45 Senate co-sponsors of ENDA, along with chief sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), bringing the total committed votes to 46. Of the 46, 42 are Democrats and two are independents. Maine senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are the only Senate Republicans that have signed on as co-sponsors.

Thirty-nine Republican senators have declined to co-sponsor the bill compared to the 16 Democrats who chose not to become a co-sponsor. Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) signed on as a co-sponsor on March 10, reducing the number of uncommitted Democrats from 17 to 16."

More at D.C. Agenda.


  1. BobN says

    It really is remarkable that so many GOP Congresscritters refuse to support a law which a (bare) majority of Republicans support and which most Americans believe is already in place.

  2. Brian says

    I feel like this post should include the names and states of the Senators who are uncommitted. Make it clear to readers if they need to contact their representatives.

  3. james says

    Haha… somehow i don’t believe that republican aides are concerned about democrats hurting their election chances. Just trying to scare off uncommitted democrats.

  4. TCW says

    So, more GOP Reps would support the bill if the transgender protections are struck? If the same is true in the Senate, drop the ‘T’ already. Better ‘LGB’ than nothing. This is no time to be a martyr.

  5. Lucas Gomez says

    The ironic truth is that the bill would have a much better chance of passing if Republicans successfully kill the “T” in the House. The most effective (though meritless) arguments against ENDA are about the T (restrooms, schoolteachers). If ENDA fails, it will be over T rights.

  6. walter says

    16 uncommitted democrats should be identified and be made to know that their consequences for being uncommitted. maybe the money and votes of the LGBT community should also be uncommitted. time for soft
    pedaling everything has gone.

  7. misanthrope says

    Too new in 2007? Yet another Barney lie. Trans activists had been on the hill for ten years before that. Back in the days that the then HRC president, Elizabeth Birch, was going around saying that she’s see a trans-inclusive ENDA over her dead body.

    Seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    “Better ‘LGB’ than nothing. This is no time to be a martyr.”

    Kinda a convenient position to take when other people are taking the punches for you. If ENDA doesn’t pass I will very likely be a second class citizen for the rest of my.

    If ENDA passes without trans inclusion, just try to remember the backs you crawled upon to gain it ounce and while. We trans untermensch would appreciate it.

  8. B says

    Some things are all or nothing, and this is one of them. I could only imagine how long it would take to include members of the Trans community to ENDA if they’re sacrificed for this bill to pass, when it has taken this long to MAYBE have votes to pass it.
    I don’t trust those who say they’d vote for this if the T is taken off. They’re fingers are crossed behind their backs.

  9. FunMe says


    It is 2010 and we are still dealing with this shit. We have to DEMAND our rights … no more excuses.

    ENDA needs to happen THIS year.

    And those who have the President’s ear (HRC) even though our Prez may be homophobic, need to put the pressure on him NOW.

  10. TANK says

    According to truffles, 16 senate democrats are uncomitted and yet we don’t have their names…how are they going to get committed if not for the direct action of people in their constituencies? Isn’t that what piggums has been exhorting people to do from the beginning? So now the strategy from grumpypus is to address that when it’s too late. Is he going to cry again when he talks about what a big shot he is, and how this doesn’t apply to him because he’s above the law? Sheesh…Of course, the motivation is potential threats or whatnot, but these are public figures and elected officials to boot. Their decisions impact people’s lives directly, and they trade off of the progressiveness of their party come election time, and are answerable for those decisions. So NAMES PLEASE.

    As to the T issue, sabertooth pulled that card last time. Blah blah blah blah blah.

  11. Rob says

    My guess is that many of those 16 uncommitted Dem senators are from traditionally-Red states—and are not gonna publicly say anything up until the vote, and then will vote for it when it actually comes up. Simply because they don’t want to deal with a horde of angry calls from the right-wing nutjobs living in their states. Honestly, I can’t blame them…I’d probably do the same.

  12. Lucas Gomez says

    Yeah, unless one of the 16 Dems is from a DEEP blue state in New England or the Pacific, it is probably best not to publicly expose their lack of commitment now. That would only provoke rightwing activism to expose the uncommitted member to rightwing, well-organized pressure to vote against it. We are outmatched by the right when it comes to political pressure and activism. Under this truth, we need to be smart about how we provoke fights and put Congressmen on the hot seat before a vote is taken.

  13. Mykelb says

    @LucasGomez: ” Under this truth, we need to be smart about how we provoke fights and put Congressmen on the hot seat before a vote is taken”

    So, you think its better for Congresscritters to hide their truth and make backroom deals rather than face it in public? That’s what I call cowardice.

  14. rafi says


    I find it infuriating when straight people don’t care about gay rights simply because it doesn’t affect them. How opportunistic of you to do the same to transgendered people.

  15. Veronica says

    To Alex and others who want to take the “T” off: keep this in mind:

    Some of us “T”s have fought for years to get you marriage equality. Comments (and actions) like you propose of breaking the LGBT alliance just makes those Transgender activists (including middle class engineers like me) say: “why should I support the LGB issues? they dont support my rights.”
    A one way relationship is soon to end and those of you who want to break from Ts please stop asking for money/volunteer time to support your causes. Oh snap all of a sudden you can’t do that? Not ONE LGB organization has EVER offered a refund of my Transgender donations when they (HRC for example) changed their tune!
    Where were you in September and October when I was phone banking and walking precincts? All for LGBT when there is work to be done but flee from T like a coward when the battles begin. Good riddance, I dont need fake friends/allies. This T stands alone (as always). I have noted that I have yet to see a Lesbian throw Transgender people off of the bus, and it is always the gay men who are quick to do so. It is because of the loyalty of the Lesbians and NCLR that I continue to work on behalf of LBT rights. Gays just so happen to be lucky enough to have the same legal issues as Lesbians, but my respect for those of you who would betray Transfolk diminishes daily with comments like the ones above. I am here to educate other transfolk and hope to wake the few up who are quick to forgive HRC and gays everywhere. Alliance my foot. One-way street. See where that gets you.

Leave A Reply