Employment Non-Discrimination Act Probably Has 60 Votes Now

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 4 2013 9:33 AM

Employment Non-Discrimination Act Probably Has 60 Votes Now

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Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is No. 60.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CityCenter

As we went into the weekend, all 55 Senate Democrats said they'd back cloture on ENDA—with a vote coming on Monday. Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk both co-sponsored the bill. Two Republicans, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, had voted for ENDA in committee. (It may be worth pointing out that both Hatch and Murkowski defeated conservative primary challengers, with Murkowski doing so as a write-in candidate.)

Progressives had hoped that Ohio Sen. Rob Portman would become the 60th hard vote for ENDA; his son is openly gay, the senator himself supports gay marriage, and he hadn't ruled out a vote. But Portman's been beaten to the punch by Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who won a narrow 2012 race. His statement:

After listening to Nevadans’ concerns about this issue from a variety of viewpoints and after numerous conversations with my colleagues, I feel that supporting this legislation is the right thing to do. Under the leadership of this Governor, as well as the legislature over the past several years, Nevada has established a solid foundation of anti-discrimination laws. This legislation raises the federal standards to match what we have come to expect in Nevada, which is that discrimination must not be tolerated under any circumstance.
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There simply aren't many Republicans in blue enough states, protected from primary challengers, who are positioned to buck Heritage Action and social conservatives to back ENDA. But Democrats probably have the votes to beat a filibuster. Next question: If a supermajority in the Senate didn't compel the House to back immigration reform, why would 60 votes in the Senate change minds on ENDA?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.