Boehner Opposes ENDA, Quashing Hopes In The House

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Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) revealed Monday that he opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, quashing hopes for the bill as it secures the votes to pass the Senate.

“The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel told TPM in an email.

The statement came just hours before the LGBT rights legislation was expected to clear a key test vote in the Senate. Democrats believe they have 60 votes to break a filibuster and put the bill on a glide-path to passage in the upper chamber. But Boehner’s opposition suggests ENDA is going nowhere in the Republican-led House.

The Speaker has long opposed ENDA, and voted against it in 2007. The national sea change in public opinion for the cause has not changed that. “We have always believed this is covered by existing law,” said an aide to Boehner.

ENDA prohibits businesses from making employment decisions on the basis of a worker’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Social conservatives oppose the bill and Heritage Action, an influential conservative activist group, is whipping lawmakers to block it.

“The legislation would severely undermine civil liberties, increase government interference in the labor market, and trample on religious liberty,” said Heritage Action, announcing it will include the vote in its legislative scorecard. “ENDA would potentially discourage job creation because it would increase government interference in the labor market.”

Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), confirmed that the House has no plans to take up ENDA.

“The bill under consideration in the Senate is currently not scheduled in the House,” Cooper said in an email. “I hope Majority Leader Reid soon addresses the dozens of House-passed bills that have been ignored in the do-nothing Senate that create jobs, improve education and create opportunity while Americans struggle to find a good-paying job.”

This article was updated at 12:05 P.M. ET.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.
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