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Harry Reid Moves Toward 'Nuclear Option' on Filibuster Reform: VIDEO

Reid

This morning in the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid ripped the Republican party for its endless obstruction of appointments and judicial nominees. Reid is considering the "nuclear option" on filibuster reform "so that executive-branch appointments and most judicial nominees would only need 51 votes for confirmation. (Supreme Court nominees could still be blocked by filibuster.)" More on how that would be done here.

Watch Reid speak out on the Senate floor, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Harry Reid Moves Toward 'Nuclear Option' on Filibuster Reform: VIDEO" »


Final Senate Vote on ENDA Set for Thursday Afternoon

The final Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is set for Thursday afternoon, The Hill reports:

ReidOn Thursday, the Senate will vote on a GOP amendment to expand religious exemptions under the bill before voting to end debate on the measure. If Democrats get 60 votes to end debate, the Senate will then vote on final passage at 1:45 p.m.

While many are calling the bill a non-starter in the House because Speaker John Boehner opposes the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was expressing optimism at a meeting with reporters today, reports Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

Amid concerns that moving the bill in the House would be a non-starter given the Republican leadership’s opposition, Reid said he “wouldn’t be too sure about that.”

“I think the House is going to have to capitulate,” Reid said. “If they have any hope of a president that can be a viable candidate, or they think they can elect some Republicans, and want to hang on to the House, they’ve got issues.”

After saying on the Senate floor Tuesday he thinks the bill would pass the House if it were allowed to come up for a vote, Reid reaffirmed that belief to reporters, saying passage would be “easy.”

Reid dismissed the idea of a discharge petition to move the bill and also rejected attaching it to larger legislation like a defense bill:

Instead, Reid said the better path is to make “one loud chant” to pass the bill along with legislation related to immigration, marketplace fairness, postal reform as well as the farm bill to make the House look like it’s “living in some other world.”

More at The Blade...


Religious Exemptions in ENDA Endorsed by Some Activist Groups, Questioned by Others

Many are still concerned about the religious exemption in the current language of ENDA, reports Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

ReidThat language would provide leeway for religious institutions, like churches or religious schools, to discriminate against LGBT workers in non-ministerial positions even if ENDA were to become law. It’s broader than similar exemptions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for categories of race, gender, religion and national origin...

...Faiz Shakir, a Reid spokesperson...said the Democratic leader understands the concerns, but wants to get the bill passed first, then go back and address the exemptions.

“Sen. Reid’s first priority is to pass the strongest possible legislation which can garner 60 votes,” Shakir said. “He believes the current legislation meets that test.”

Activists from the ACLU and GetEQUAL are concerned about the amendment, Johnson reports, but realistically do not see the language being changed on the Senate floor and are instead petitioning individual lawmakers to speak out and raise awareness about the language:

GetEQUAL has petitioned four senators with a reputation for being champions of progressive values — Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) — to speak out against the religious exemption. As of Sunday, the petition has just under 6,000 signatures. It remains to be seen whether any senator will speak out in favor of limiting the religious exemption when ENDA comes to the Senate floor this week.

The Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Work, and the Center for American Progress have all endorsed the exemption, according to the Blade.

The Senate is expected to take a cloture vote on ENDA later today.


Cloture Likely on ENDA Tonight, Setting Up Monday Vote

A cloture filing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is likely tonight, Buzzfeed reports:

ReidReid is likely to file a cloture petition on the bill this evening, a Democratic leadership aide told BuzzFeed Thursday, which would set a vote on the motion to proceed on debate of ENDA for Monday evening.

If the motion to proceed, which requires 60 votes, is agreed to, the Senate would debate and eventually vote on the bill. The vote would be the first Senate vote on the legislation since 1996 and the first vote ever on the legislation with both sexual orientation and gender identity protections.

Reid told Rachel Maddow in an interview last night he is confident that the measure has the votes to pass.


Harry Reid Tells Rachel Maddow He's Confident Senate Will Pass ENDA: VIDEO

Maddow_reid

Rachel Maddow interviewed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about the chances to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which appears headed to the floor as early as next week.

The gist of Rachel's segment: "Are there any more Republicans who do not support discrimination against gay people?"

As of this week (following Joe Manchin's commitment), every single Senate Democrat is on record in support of the bill. Four Republicans - Kirk, Collins, Murkowski, and Hatch - voted for the bill in committee so they're likely on board as well.

Reid expressed confidence that the bill would pass the Senate "I think, without question, we're going to get at least five Republicans. ..I think we're beyond hard votes. Easy votes. This is fairness....Why wouldn't we do this?"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Harry Reid Tells Rachel Maddow He's Confident Senate Will Pass ENDA: VIDEO" »


FL Senator Bill Nelson Co-Sponsors ENDA; Advocates Pressure Final Two Dem Holdouts

6a00d8341c730253ef017c385d242b970b-800wiYesterday, after facing considerable pressure from both the LGBT rights movement nationally and advocates in his home state of Florida, Democratic Senator Bill Nelson announced his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to the Washington Blade:

The senator’s name is listed as among the sponsors of ENDA on “Thomas,” the website for the Library of Congress that monitors legislation. According to the website, Nelson signed on as a supporter Monday, the same day Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that a Senate vote on ENDA would take place before Thanksgiving.

The news was first reported via Twitter by the New York Times’ Jeremy Peters.

The Florida Democrat’s office didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment on why the senator had come to support ENDA. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times in July, Nelson had expressed concerns about the transgender protections in the bill.

ENDA, which would ban employers from making hiring and firing decisions based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, now has 54 sponsors in the Senate, and will gain a 55th when Senator-elect Cory Booker joins the chamber to represent New Jersey.

Nelson's announcement came just one day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada promised that ENDA will receive a vote on the Senate floor before Thanksgiving, and possibly within the next week or so.

This summer, ENDA was reported out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee on a bipartisan 15-7 vote, with Republican Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Orrin Hatch of Utah joining the committee's 12 Democrats to advance the bill.  If those three senators support ENDA on the Senate floor, it will be just three votes shy of overcoming a Republican filibuster.

6a00d8341c730253ef01630442fff6970d-800wiWith only two Democratic senators holding out on endorsing ENDA--which would put the bill just one vote away from a filibuster-proof majority--LGBT advocates are ramping up the political pressure directed at the reluctant lawmakers.  As Tico Almeida, founder and President of Freedom to Work put it in a statement following Nelson's announcement, proponents of ENDA expect a unified Democratic caucus to put its support behind the bill:

“Senators Manchin and Pryor are now the only two Democrats playing coy about whether they will stand on the right side of history. ENDA simply says a corporation can’t fire you just because of who you are or who you love, and Americans want a country where people are  judged for the job they do based on their skills and hard work, not  their sexual orientation or gender identity.  We urge Sen. Manchin and Sen. Pryor to stand with the majority of Americans, and the majority of people in their states and support the LGBT freedom to work.”

Despite the LGBT movement's push for the passage of ENDA, some in the community have expressed reservations about the bill's religious exemptions.  In a statement issued today, the LGBT organization GetEQUAL said that the exemptions written into ENDA could set a "dangerous, unnecessary, and un-American precedent":

“While we are glad that ENDA will receive a vote in the Senate for the first time in almost 20 years, we are dismayed that the bill continues to excuse religious bigotry as acceptable under the law. Broad religious exemptions in the bill actually make it possible that institutions such as schools, hospitals, and universities can continue discriminating against LGBT employees and prospective employees.

We’re calling on progressive champions in the Senate — including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Sherrod Brown — to speak out against these exemptions, establishing a clear record that these exemptions are not necessary and are not acceptable in 2013.”


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