Democrat Suggests ENDA May Take Up To 5 Years To Become Law

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) with Stephen Colbert

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) with Stephen Colbert

John Aravosis points to this interview with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) who suggests that Congress will delay passing the Employer Non-Discrimination Act for approximately five years:

Asked later in a brief interview if that meant the House would not vote on ENDA this year, [Congresswoman Jackie] Speier [D-CA] told the B.A.R. , “The rest of the year is in question.”

“There’s no question ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ will be history this year,” she said. “ENDA, we will have that law for sure within the next five years.”

Speier, a Democrat whose district includes parts of San Mateo and San Francisco counties, said she was acknowledging reality.

“I’m being realistic,” she said.

Speier’s timeline clashes with previous assurances made to the LGBT community. For instance, back in April, Rep. Barney Frank (D-NY) told a group of gay activists that the House Education and Labor Committee will take up ENDA within several days and that the bill will likely receive a quick vote in the full House within weeks. “The speaker has promised that.” “We will get this done fairly quickly,” he said.

By May, Democratic aids were assuring groups that the vote on the resolution would occur sometime before the November elections. “It’ll be right before we leave…to energize the base,” they said, predicting that the vote would occur as early as the second week in June or mid July. “When the opportunity is there, we want to bring that up, and I hope that will be soon,” Speaker Pelosi said. “We’ll see what people want to do.” Still, she promised a House vote by the end of the year.

In June, however, the situation began to look even more perilous. Pelosi said she would not bring up ENDA until Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and Democrats in the Senate began to complain that they’re not ready to take-up the bill. “This issue is just not ready for the Senate,” an LGBT advocate and political insider told The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld on condition of anonymity. “The procedural aspects of debate would make it way too easy for a [Sen. Jim] DeMint or a [Sen. Tom] Coburn to demagogue.” “The fact that there’s not a path in the Senate makes it a very heavy lift,” the source said. “It’s not enough to say that Pelosi needs to ram this through. The reason she isn’t able to ram it through is because members don’t want to vote for something that is politically difficult like this issue.” The bill currently has 45 Senate cosponsors and 199 House cosponsors.

Aravosis observes that “If they can’t pass ENDA with super-majorities in both the House and Senate, and a Democratic president who won by a wide margin and had a 70% approval rating (and an opposition that was in ruins), then it may take a lot more than five years to ‘improve’ the situation enough for Democrats to be comfortable keeping their promises to insignificant little pariahs like us.”